Jermaine McGillvary’s story should be an inspiration to everyone.
At the age of 18 he was on the dole after dropping out of college.
Ten years later, and the former warehouse worker is now set to represent his country once again.
Rubbing shoulders with international superstars like Sam Burgess and James Graham is a guy who considers himself ordinary. But his road to success if one of the most incredible tales of perseverance and determination the game has seen.
“This is a great journey for me,” McGillvary said.
“Ten years ago I was on the dole and then got a job in a warehouse. Now I’m playing for my country, how crazy is that? I just look back at how far I’ve come to get in this position and nobody can take that away from me.
“I left high school, I’d gone to college for about six months and I wasn’t enjoying it. It was like school but you didn’t have your friends there. So I just dropped out, went on the dole and was chilling with my mates and then I got a job on nights at B&Q straight across from the John Smith’s Stadium.”
After bumping into Leroy Cudjoe, McGillvary tried his hand at the Giants Academy. In many cases, this is the point where you claim they didn’t look back. But that can’t be said for the Huddersfield flier.
“I was rubbish, honestly.
“I couldn’t catch a ball. I used to get people extras because I was so unfit.
“When I say I was rubbish, I mean I was the worst player on that team. I was weak, I couldn’t catch a cold. But if I’d have listened to people then and looked at people’s disappointment in me when I was dropping balls I’d have given up and I wouldn’t be here now.
I’m like that now, I’m not bothered what people throw at me, I’ll keep going.
“I really thought that I could make something of it, so I decided to quit my job and have a proper pre-season with the Academy so I could improve. It wasn’t bad pay to be fair, but it wasn’t very fulfilling as a career. I wanted to do something that excited me and would make my family and kids proud.
“I got better and improved. I earned my stripes going to Batley and being top try-scorer and player of the year, then I went to Barrow and made my Super League debut at 23. Then five years later I made my England debut. It’s been one hell of a journey and it’s still going. That’s why I won’t let anyone hold me back.”
His journey to superstardom is anything but conventional, but ahead of England’s game with Samoa, his path explains his gratitude towards representing his country.
“When I say I’ve come the long and the hard way round, I mean that I’ve been the long and the hard way round,” he said.
“That’s why I appreciate everything that happens. Nobody can take that away from me.
“I get to go away now with England and it’s exciting times now. I can’t remember the last time there was a mid-season Test so I’m really looking forward to it.”
Despite criticism of England’s year-long preparation for the World Cup, McGillvary believes that the benefits of the additional time together are beginning to show internally.
“I think the reason we’re doing this and all the training sessions beforehand are to get more fluent. It’s really important to have a quality test like this against a top team. It won’t be an easy game and it should be a great occasion.
“What we need to do is what we feel is best for the team and it’s been really good.
“Just the time together and getting the morale, almost a club environment. The more you know about someone the more you’ll fight for them on the field and know what they need. I think that’s what we’re getting now. That’s what you want, and I really enjoy it.”