Fitzgibbon relishes Exiles chance - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Fitzgibbon relishes Exiles chance

Daniel Schofield 09/06/2011 10:53:17 AM Comments (0)

Three years after pulling on an Australian Test jersey for the last time, Craig Fitzgibbon is buzzing at being involved in representative football again when he lines up for the Exiles against England on Friday.

Having won 19 Kangaroos caps as well as appearing in 11 State of Origin matches during nine years with the Sydney Roosters in the NRL, the 33-year-old assumed his chances of playing on the big stage ended when he joined Hull in 2010.

But the first International Origin match between England and an Exiles team made up of Super League's finest imports has given Fitzgibbon, along with several others, a second chance.

And it is an opportunity Fitzgibbon, who starts alongside Hull teammates Willie Manu - the Tongan international - and 15-cap Kangaroo Mark O'Meley in a powerful pack, intends to make the most of at Headingley.

"When we left New Zealand and Australia, as players we thought we had given up the opportunity to play representative rugby again so I think every import over here jumped at the chance as soon as they heard about it," he said.

"We have got some really good players in our squad and I have been fortunate to play with or against most of them.

"It has been a privilege training and playing alongside some of the Kiwi boys for the first time. I have just been amazed at the skill level at the likes of Thomas Leuluai and Rangi Chase.

"I am not sure where it would rank in terms of achievements if we did win. I am just going to savour the occasion but because it is such a landmark game, it would be very special if we did win."

In total, six Australians - boasting a combined total of 69 Kangaroo caps - start for Brian McClennan's side, including the likes of reigning Super League Man of Steel Pat Richards and ex-Australia captain Danny Buderus.

But while there's no shortage of stellar names, Fitzgibbon says the Exiles, who have only trained together for five days, are at a big disadvantage compared toEngland.

"We are under no illusions how hard it is going to be because England have got some terrific players," added Fitzgibbon who will line up against Hull team-mate Tom Briscoe.

"We have got a lot of talent on paper but I don't know if you can classify us as favourites.

"The core of the England team has been together for a long time and that is a big advantage.

"To some extent we have kept training simple but there are times when we will not have a cohesive plan for everything because with the players we have got you can't put shackles on them.

"They have got so much flair and I think it is really exciting because you don't know what they are doing to do next."

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