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AS THE only specialist winger left in the Great Britain squad, Jermaine McGillvary is guaranteed his spot for the last two Tests of the tour but he is starting to contemplate the end of his international career.
The Huddersfield flier was a big hit in the 2017 World Cup and has scored 12 tries in 17 appearances for England but reckons he is a long shot to make the next World Cup in 2021.
National coach Wayne Bennett is a big fan and kept faith with McGillvary despite a disappointing year with his club, but the player himself is honest enough not to expect the loyalty to last forever.
McGillvary has no plans to retire from the international game but equally he has no intention of taking up a fall-back option of playing for Jamaica, who have qualified for 2021.
“My dad’s Jamaican but I think the international scene will be coming to an end for me soon,” McGillvary said.
“I’m 31 years old. I’ve got four years left at my club and I want to give my best there and finish with quality so I need my recovery and stuff.
“I’m starting to think about the next stage of my career. It’s not confirmed but I’m a realist.”
McGillvary conceded on the eve of the tour to New Zealand and Papua New Guinea that the Lions had left behind the best winger in Super League after Tom Makinson dislocated a shoulder in the Grand Final.
Wakefield’s Tom Johnstone is also expected to be pushing for a spot after a succession of knee injuries wrecked his hopes over the last two years but McGillvary would relish the opportunity to provide competition for places.
“I’d never say never but there’s a lot of quality players coming through and we need the best chance of winning a World Cup,” he said. “We went close in 2017.
“I wouldn’t rule myself out, I’d probably be more of a back-up if he decides to bring three wingers. It would be good to help out and support the team.”
Whatever happens in the future, McGillvary will look back with fondness on a career that did not begin in earnest until he was 21 when he made his Super League debut for the Giants.
“I’m coming to the back end now but you know what, I’ve achieved so much, more than I ever expected,” said McGillvary, who was working on building sites and in warehouses while he waited for his big chance.
“All I wanted to do was play rugby and to make a living. I’ve travelled the world, I’ve played for my country, how good is that?”
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