Smith sets World Cup target

Leeds Rhinos backrower Cameron Smith wants to break into the England set-up this year and force his way into Shaun Wane’s calculations for his 2021 World Cup squad.

Smith has caught the eye at the Rhinos in the past two seasons, making 20 first-team appearances in 2019 and racking up 14 last season as a ball-playing loose forward.

In 2019 the backrower made his debut for England Knights in their win over Jamaica. Now he has set his sights on making the senior national team and potentially a place in a home World Cup.

“That’s the pinnacle, isn’t it,” Smith said.

“As a young English forward, if I can get into that team it would be the icing on the cake. That’s the main goal, but I’m not looking too far ahead as I know what’s around the corner.

“Short-term I want to play as much rugby as I can. And then long-term I’m not really sure, I just want to be a regular starter for the Rhinos and hopefully by the end of the year knocking on the door on that international stage.

“But I’m not trying to look too far forward because it’s easy to get lost in the journey, so I’m just taking it week by week.”

Leeds have endured an interrupted pre-season after a Covid-19 outbreak at the club.

But Smith, who debuted for the Rhinos back in 2016, believes the team is looking good ahead of the start of the new campaign next month.

“Pre-season has been fairly tough to start with, especially with all the Covid that’s been going on, so it’s not been easy,” the 22-year-old said.

“But the lads got back from New Year and it’s really showing now. Now that we’re a couple of weeks in, and we’re starting to put a couple of pieces together of the puzzle, we look really sharp.

Leeds will open the new season against Wakefield at Headingley on Saturday March 27.

Although it is designated as an away fixture, the Rhinos will be playing at home as part of a double-header behind closed doors.

The forward, who already has nearly 60 first-team matches under his belt, is excited to get underway.

“It will be a nice fixture,” Smith said.

“We’ve still got a friendly to come at some point, but we’re not looking ahead to round one yet. I’m just taking it week by week to get as much out of pre-season as I can.”

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