The Men’s World Cup has already begun, but this Sunday marks the start of the PDRL World Cup competition. Castleford Tigers will be represented at the tournament with Nick Kennedy and Mark Gummerson selected for the England squad.
Nick Kennedy is buzzing to be part of the squad and to be representing his country, when he never even imagined it was possible.
“It’s still hard to believe that it’s happening. I wish it started tomorrow! All the prep is done and the training with the tactics are in place. I just want to get out on the field. I’m beyond excited. It’s amazing.”
Nick believes that playing alongside Castleford teammate Mark Gummerson, can only mean good things for England, having played together both for Castleford and for England in the past.
“It’s great. We’re going down to Warrington for the camp together and representing Castleford PDRL, and now going doing the job for our country. It’s always good to have a teammate and a cas lad by my side.”
Both have had to raise funds for the tournament, with Nick being sponsored by his place of work, Schroders Personal Wealth, while the generosity of family, friends the CTSC and Fords’ fans have got Mark the funding he needed.
Nick is grateful to his employers for their help and support and thanked them for their involvement.
“I was really lucky to get the funding from my employers Schroders Personal Wealth. They’ve supported me through my journey and whenever I’ve needed time off. I’m really proud to represent them as my sponsors. They donated the money without any questions, straight away. I’m really grateful and it’s fantastic from them.
England will face Australia in their opener at Victoria Park on Sunday, which will be streamed live on the BBC website. They then face Wales on Tuesday, before finishing their group games against New Zealand.
Should England get to the final, they will play at the Haliwell Jones Stadium, and the game will be live on BBC.
“It’s great. The coverage of Mens, Women’s and Wheelchair has been brilliant, but because we’re a newer sport, the coverage hasn’t quite reached that level. But we’ll be there and the game being broadcasted, if we go on and win the tournament, people can go back and watch those games. If it means a few more players at clubs for next season then that would be amazing. The more we can get the word out, it will be life changing.”
“There’s a place for everyone in PDRL, and I feel so strongly about that, and from the coverage the game and skill level will grow, with new people attending at clubs. It will be a game changer for a sport that I love.”
Nick’s dream was to see the Haka performed by a New Zealand team, and as luck would have it, he’ll be facing it on the field.
“I’d bought tickets to watch a New Zealand men’s game because seeing the Haka live was on my bucket list, so I jumped at the chance to get tickets. However now, I can’t attend the game because I’m going to be playing in an International game against New Zealand with them doing the Haka to me. It’s exciting and it’s a coincidence that the dates have lined up.”
Nick would love nothing more than to be lifting the trophy on home soil for England, but from a personal standpoint, Nick wants to help the team in any way he can while wearing his country’s colours.
“I want to do my bit. We’ve all got specific roles and we’re all there to make the machine roll forward and get the points. We’ve trained and got the moves and drills locked down. I want to take in as much of it as we can.”
“I’ve never experienced being in a camp like this one before and being around a squad like this with the coaches. I don’t want to look back in ten years time and think ‘what if’, I want to do my job and give everything I can for my team mates.”
The Castleford Tigers PDRL team, and the Castleford Tigers Foundation have provided springboards for opportunities like this one for both Nick and Mark, and Nick believes that the foundation has allowed him to fulfil his dream of pulling on a shirt for his country.
“Castleford PDRL has been amazing. I turned up at Cas having never played Rugby League in my life, only Rugby Union years ago. All the efforts of the coaches and the time they put in and the organising they do has helped me develop. They’ve developed my Rugby brain and made sure I react to things on the field and run the best lines I can.”
“Without the facilities of the Castleford Tigers foundation, and the knowledge and hard work of the coaches and the platform the foundation gives us, Cas PDRL wouldn’t exist and without the coaches, I personally wouldn’t be where I am. Without them, I’d be playing 5-a-side football with mates from work. Without them, I wouldn’t be pulling on an England jersey this weekend.”