Hull FC hooker Danny Houghton has admitted that while it’s a real honour to be involved in England’s 31-man Elite Performance Squad, it’s nothing more than a start towards fulfilling his lifelong dream of playing for his country.
Houghton was part of the group that met in Rochdale on Monday for the first of several squad meet-ups throughout the course of 2017 as Wayne Bennett’s side prepare for the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.
But the reigning Man of Steel told TotalRL that his inclusion in the squad – his first England call-up – is nothing more than a start.
“It’s good being here in an England camp for the first time,” he said.
“It’s been a bit different naturally learning all the new terminology and things like that but it’s something I’ve got to get used to if I’m going to be playing in England games and international matches.
“There’d be no better time to pull that shirt on and play for England than this season, without a doubt. It’s something you strive towards as a kid and it’s something you dream of doing, so to finally get in the squad is a start but my goal is to get to Australia and be playing in a World Cup.”
Houghton also said that despite this being the inaugural meeting, he sees the concept having plenty of benefits for the national side as the year rolls on.
He said: “I think these camps will be great because it gets everyone on the same page and it ensures that we all know each other really well. In a World Cup year I think having these regular meetings are what could be the difference for us as a group to prepare for the tournament. From playing at club level to coming here it’s a bit different.”
At club level, Houghton and Hull will look to bounce back from last week’s defeat at Catalans on Thursday night when they face Huddersfield Giants.
Houghton admits that it was a frustrating performance against the Dragons last week – but says the opportunity to play so early this weekend is undoubtedly a positive.
“At Wakefield it was a 1980s-style slog and then we weren’t great on Thursday, but that’s done now and we’re out to put some wrongs right against Huddersfield,” he said.
“We can get straight back on the horse playing on Thursday night and there’s no time to kick stones and mope about.
“They look good; they’re always a good team at home and they’re a side where you’ll have to be right on your game. Hopefully we can get back to what we did well at Wakefield. We didn’t respect the ball well enough throughout.”