St Helens forward Kyle Amor believes Keiron Cunningham’s side have an ideal opportunity to make a statement about their title credentials in the season-opener against Leeds tonight: and admits he has one eye on a World Cup shirt with England at the end of this season.
The Saints narrowly missed out on Old Trafford last year after losing to Warrington in the play-off semi-finals, following a late-season upturn in form which saw them win 11 of their last 12 games.
And Amor told League Express he is eager to get the season started on Thursday night.
“To open the season up with everyone watching and all the fans being starved of rugby for the last few months brings a bit of added pressure I guess but we’ll thrive on it,” he said.
“Leeds were poor last year but you wouldn’t bank on them being like that again so we know it’s going to be a ferocious challenge.
“We’ve got an opportunity in our own internal bubble to make a bit of a statement on Thursday if we can get off to a good start. If we pick up wins early doors it alleviates a bit of that pressure which we managed to put on ourselves last year so we know a strong start is key.”
Amor also admits that he is hoping to prove to England coach Wayne Bennett he is capable of the form required to make the World Cup squad after being named in his EPS squad last month.
“I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about it,” he said.
“It’s something I’ve been wanting badly for a long, long time. Last year I believe I showed form that was capable of maybe getting a shout but obviously I didn’t.
“It’s very tough in my position with all the guys in the NRL but I just want to replicate my form of recent years and hopefully I’ll do enough. It would make everything I do worthwhile if I got the chance to play in a World Cup.”
And Amor insists that with the added competition for places at stake this year, he knows if he doesn’t perform, he won’t be in the team.
“I think my form was a lot like the team’s – I was inconsistent. Hopefully myself and the team can start like we mean it and be in that top four.
“I want to be kept on my toes with people breathing down my neck and I think with Luke Douglas and Adam Walker coming in, I know that if I play poor I’ll be sat in the stands next week. This is the strongest squad we’ve had for a number of years.”