But in a couple of short months he will – barring disaster – get his chance again on the hallowed London turf when both World Cup semi-finals are held there on November 23.
The Leeds and England skipper will be part of a Rugby League World Cup promotion this Friday when the code takes over Trafalgar Square from 11am-3pm, so it seemed only logical to ask for his impartial view on Saturday’s big one and how the Poms are shaping up ahead of hosting their World Cup.
Wigan take on Hull FC in the Challenge Cup final this weekend – how do you see it shaping up?
It’s a really tough one to call – both teams are capable of winning. If Hull can show the same form they did against Warrington (in the semi-final) they’re a chance. It’s important for Wigan to get [Sam] Tompkins and [captain Sean] O’Loughlin back. I‘m going to sit on the fence – the team who plays best on the day will win, the way we want it.
Wembley is the undisputed home of football – what does it mean to rugby league players when they play there?
Traditionally, it’s important in this country. You always strive to play there in big games. Anything there is a great sporting occasion, and the Challenge Cup is no exception. To get the opportunity to play on the big stage, in such a stadium, is awesome. I feel very fortunate to have played in a few of them, albeit getting second prize in a lot of them. It’s a great thing to be involved in, and there’s not many sports around the world where you can fill a whole stadium with supporters of a bunch of different teams and everyone has a great time.
You must be looking forward to hosting a World Cup at home, with the opening match in Cardiff against Australia and the semi-finals back to back at Wembley…
Ticket sales have been great and it’s just around the corner now. People within league are interested and I’d like to think those outside will take notice – it is the largest sporting event to take place in this country this year. Both semi-finals there will be huge, so hopefully we can fill it and put on a real show for everyone. I’m sure the four teams there will play their part and make it a great festival of rugby league.
Is this the year England stop Australia or New Zealand from winning it?
I’d love to say yeah. There’s a lot to happen before then, and we don’t know what the make up of the squad is going to be like. We don’t know what injuries we’re going to have, but I’d love to say yeah. It’d be a great shot in the arm for British rugby league. It’d be great to jump on the back of the legacy that was left by the Olympics – if England was good enough to win the World Cup it would have a great impact on participation and the profile of the sport. That’s what we all want.