CHRIS Hill believes he may have been moulded into a World Cup finalist by playing Featherstone, London and Halifax. The Warrington prop endured a turbulent domestic season, which saw the Wolves have to battle through the Qualifiers, including facing the Championship sides.
Fast forward two months and he will be leading England’s charge as they go for glory in their first World Cup final in 22 years. It may seem a million miles away from taking on the minnows while battling for their top flight status.
But the lessons learned from those clashes have stood Hill in good stead for Saturday’s Brisbane showpiece against Australia. He said: “It is a long way from Featherstone, Halifax and London but experiences like that make these a whole lot better.
-“You have to go through some of those experiences and I’m just looking forward to ending the season on a high.”
-“You have to learn more about more about yourself through the bad times, you’re going to have times through your career where things don’t go for you.”
-“There were probably times through the pool stages where things probably didn’t go for us but you’ve got to dig through them.”
-“We’ve come out the other side and we’ve landed ourselves in the World Cup final.”
Skipper Sean O’Loughlin has been named in England’s side for the final after a thigh injury scare but he still has work to do to be clear to play. Knee injury victim Josh Hodgson has been replaced by James Roby, who may have to go for the full 80 minutes as back-rower Chris Heighington was brought on to the bench.
But that thought does not trouble 30-year-old Hill, who added: “Playing with only one specialist hooker rather than two won’t change anything at all. “Robes can play 80 minutes, he’s done that for 15 years in Super League and has done it internationally, so he’s more than capable.”
“He’s been at the top of his game for so long and that’s why, he’s got a load of those one per centers but we’ve come as a squad, if he doesn’t make it, someone else will step up.”
“I don’t know if he’ll play, I’m not a physio. If I was, I’d heal him like that. I saw him yesterday morning and he’s moving a lot better, so we’ll wait and see.”
Kevin Brown will continue at stand-off while Ben Currie will play off the bench, a long way from being slammed by critics after they were first selected by Bennett.
All that puzzled Hill, who hopes the rewards come for what the players have given up, including time with their families. And the feeling at Suncorp Stadium will be the same as if he was turning out at Reactiv Park, home of amateur side Siddal.
He said: “I don’t understand where criticism of Kevin Brown and Ben Currie came from. You’ve watched them, especially Kev, in previous internationals and I think he’s been outstanding.