ALEX Walmsley says Saturday’s World Club Challenge defeat to Sydney Roosters will not define St Helens’ season – and that it whetted his appetite for a crack at Australia later this year.
The Saints front rower set a superb lead up front in the opening stages as Luke Thompson opened the scoring for the home side, and also touched down himself in the closing stages.
But in between the Roosters’ superior finishing skills proved decisive as Joseph Manu score twice in their 20-12 win.
Walmsley said: “We’re weren’t far away – that was the toughest pill to take because we were so close.
“They just showed a lesson in taking your chances.
“They only had a few chances and took them all, we created a few and didn’t take as many as we’d like.
“That was the difference in the end.
“Fair play to them, they’re a class side – the best in the world. But we pushed them all the way and I’d like to think they knew it as well.
“It probably echoed their Grand Final.
“I remember watching their game against Canberra and they had all the possession and territory, had them pinned to the line and didn’t convert their chances.
“Then the Roosters delivered a sucker punch.
“It was similar against us – we had plenty of opportunity and chances and had we taken them it might have been a different result.
“But they showed a bit of class and then punched us in the face with that (Manu) try.
“We stuck in until the end but unfortunately it just wasn’t enough.
“It’s not a season defining game though.
“We’d like to have added a trophy to the cabinet but it wasn’t meant to be.
“There was a lot of positives – we’ve got some young lads who played tonight who are very young but really stood up to the challenge and that was great.
“You don’t win a competition with 17 players and we were missing a few key players.
“The way our young guys can come in and step up and hit the level of expectations we want is credit to our squad.
“Our targets now are the other couple of trophies we’ve got to go for.”
Walmsley also admitted that the bruising exchanges in the middle gave him a taste of what he could expect against Australia later this year – if selected by new coach Shaun Wane.
He added: “I’ve been around the international set-up for a few years not but we’ve got a new coach now so we’ll see if he likes me and wants me to be involved.
“It does whet the appetite – you want to play internationally and we might be coming up against a few of them at the end of the year.
“The Roosters have got a great pack when you look at Hargreaves and what he brings, and I enjoyed that physical battle.
“We knew it was going to be tough in the middle and spoke that as starting middles, me, Thommo (Thompson) and Morgs (Morgan Smith).
“We wanted to make a statement from the off and we did that and got an early try.
“We just couldn’t keep that pressure to the end.
“I thought the middles off the bench were great as well – we’ve got a good pack that really pushed theirs all the way.
“These are the games to want to play in and go up against the best, give a good go and I thought we did that.”