ALEX WALMSLEY is determined to push on in the World Cup after completing his recovery from a debilitating illness to make his England debut on Saturday.
The St Helens prop has revealed how he spent three days on a drip after being felled by a mystery virus and is still striving to put the weight that he lost back on in the build-up to the opening game of the tournament against Australia.
Walmsley was forced to miss that clash in Sydney but recovered sufficiently to win his first cap in the 29-10 win over Lebanon at the Sydney Football Stadium.
“To finally get out there and put the shirt on was a huge honour,” he said. “It was a very proud moment in my career.
“I’ve been close on occasions before and at one point last week I thought I was never going to make it.
“It was a really tough illness and it knocked me for six. I was struggling for a good week and finding myself on a drip for three days wasn’t ideal leading into a World Cup.
“I’m still working to put the weight back on but the doc has done a great job with me, getting me back fit and this game was important for me to build on, getting a few minutes under my belt and hopefully I can continue to do that next week against France and build for the rest of the tournament.”
England flew out of Sydney to set up camp once more in Perth, where they spent 10 days before the tournament began, to prepare for their final group match against France.
Although England got off the mark with victory over Lebanon, it was largely an underwhelming performance as they failed to build on a 22-6 half-time lead.
“There were aspects where we were good I think,” said Walmsley. “There was a lot of energy, a lot of effort, in our defence in particular.
“I think for the vast majority of the game we defended really well.
“We were a bit scratchy with the ball so there’s something to work on there but I think the main objective was getting the win, which we did.
“We completed in that sense but there’s also lots to build on.”