Warrington Wolves fullback Stefan Ratchford has said that he hopes his versatility could work in his favour ahead of this year’s Four Nations.
Ratchford was amongst the 31-man group who met with Wayne Bennett earlier this month as he bids to win his first international cap since 2012.
And the 27-year-old told League Express that he was delighted to get the call into Bennett’s squad meeting but he isn’t getting carried away.
“The England meeting was great,” said Ratchford.
“It’s always good to be involved in situations like that.
“I’m not looking too far ahead as it was just a get-together, like there has been for the last few years. Wayne outlined his plans and explained why he took the job and what he expects from us as players. There were no guarantees about who’s playing and who isn’t.
“There were 31 of us meeting in England and ten or twelve in Australia, so it’s going to be tough to make the cut. But to be involved in one of those meetings and to have your face in the mix is very pleasing.”
Ratchford admitted that previous England coach Steve McNamara’s preference for forwards and a hooker on the interchange bench meant that opportunities for him were hard to come by in recent years.
But he hopes that his versatility could become his coach’s preference at international level and he revealed he’s spoken to a Wolves team-mate who has been in a similar situation in the past.
“It’s all down to the coach’s preferences,” added Ratchford.
“Tony Smith likes someone who can fill in across a number of roles and you may end up nabbing a bench spot if you’re a versatile player.
“Ironically I was speaking to Kurt Gidley about it; he was the same and he’d get on the bench for State of Origin and Australia. He’s come on at fullback, in the halves and in the centres in the past, so that worked in his favour.
“Steve just liked three forwards and a replacement hooker and the subs would be like-for-like, but I’m happy I can play in five or six positions. Hopefully Wayne might see that as a good thing and it could work in my favour.”
Ratchford is currently on an extended run at fullback, and after spending the early part of the year playing in a multitude of positions, he says he’s enjoying the consistency of playing at the back.
“I missed the first three or four weeks of the year getting back from an operation. Then, as I got back, Brad Dwyer got injured.
“As Brad got injured Daryl Clark got injured, so I was filling in at hooker, and then I got thrown into the halves when Chris Sandow was out. But over the last month I’ve been able to settle into fullback.
“It’s a role I enjoy, and there is some great competition for places across the squad, so to be able to hold one position down is really pleasing.”
This article was originally published in League Express, get your copy in stores every Monday or online at this link every Sunday evening.