Alex Walmsley has spoken of his happiness at becoming a first-team regular at St Helens.
The 23-year-old, who was signed by the Merseyside club in 2012 from Batley Bulldogs as a long-term prospect, was thrust into first-team action to cover injuries and blossomed into a hard-hitting, 60-minute plus prop. He has started all of St Helens’ 2014 Super League games.
He was voted young player of the year in our annual Super League awards and has been tipped for international honours by former coach John Kear and Hull KR winger Ben Cockayne. He is currently in a tie for second place in the Albert Goldthorpe medal standings.
“I’m starting games now which is something I’ve not been used to,” he said.
“It’s a new challenge; I’m enjoying it and playing more minutes. It allows me to be more explosive. I’m playing three or four stints and I am comfortable with what Nathan is asking me to do.”
Walmsley is looking ahead to what should be a superb clash with Salford tomorrow night. He said: “It will be a physical game on Thursday. We didn’t get off to the best start against Hull but we finished the game well and that’s how we need to start against Salford.
“It will be a battle in the pack and we’ll get smashed about a bit with the likes of Hansen and Hock in there.
“Perhaps we fell in love with ourselves a little. We forgot how we got that win at Warrington – it was done by knuckling down and taking it up in the middle. We came back in the second half and did what we’re supposed to do.
“We earned the right to play and we did that but Hull were better in the first half.”
Although he plays like a veteran, Walmsley is still very inexperienced. He added: “After playing at Leeds Met, I only had a year at Batley so sometimes I still feel pretty raw. I’ve come a long way since then, especially with my fitness, and that was one of the challenges I faced.
“I feel a lot fitter as a player and I have learnt a lot from Keiron Cunningham, Browny [coach Nathan Brown] and the senior players skill wise.
“As a student at Leeds Met it was a dream to be picked up by Batley and now look at me. I know I am blessed to be in this position and it isn’t something I take lightly. People are talking about international honours but my main priority is to develop as a player.”