Jake Connor brings fighting talk to England – and Gareth Widdop should watch out

JAKE Connor already has his fighting talk lined up ahead of his England bow – and one of his soon-to-be team-mates is his target.

But this is not a declaration of war, or a repeat of his on-field reputation as a wind-up merchant when it comes to Gareth Widdop.

 Hull FC star Jake Connor found himself battling with new England colleague Gareth Widdop's former club in Halifax

HULL FC
Hull FC star Jake Connor found himself battling with new England colleague Gareth Widdop's former club in Halifax

It is literally talk of fighting, mainly whenever Siddal battled King Cross Park in a battle of Halifax.

Whenever they came up against King Cross, where NRL star Widdop first played before emigrating to Australia, it was feisty to say the least.

And you can be sure stories from both sides of the divide in the West Yorkshire town may dominate when Connor and Widdop meet up ahead of next Saturday’s clash against New Zealand in Denver.

“When Siddal and King Cross played each other, it was like State of Origin, there were scraps everywhere,” recalled Connor, who at 23-years-old is six years Widdop’s junior.

 Gareth Widdop started playng at King Cross Park in Halifax

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Gareth Widdop started playng at King Cross Park in Halifax

“And of course I got involved in one! I think everyone was in at one point. We played them six times in one year and while I didn’t start them, I was always in them.

“I think I’ve always had the mouthy side. Where I grew up, every player was the same, that’s just how I grew up playing.

“I’ve probably bad-mouthed all the Super League lads in the England squad at some point to be honest but what goes on the field stays on the field.

“Chris Hill has given me stick before and I’ve given him some back but I enjoy it, it’s not malicious. People can frustrate me and sometimes I get frustrated – I’m a winner.

 Widdop is expected to play at stand-off against New Zealand in Denver

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Widdop is expected to play at stand-off against New Zealand in Denver

“It can work both ways, it can put players off or inspire them, but I just focus on being me and doing what I do best. I don’t know what it is but something just comes out of me!”

Before heading Stateside, Connor – expected to play at centre – has the business of beating Wigan today on his agenda first.

And as Super League starts to come to the boil, both sides need the win to keep their top four hopes going, especially the second-placed Warriors, whose form has dropped like a stone.

For Connor, though, the priority is to just keep doing what got him in the England reckoning ahead of what could be literally a big test against the huge Kiwis.

 Wayne Bennett's men meet up and fly out tomorrow

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Wayne Bennett's men meet up and fly out tomorrow

He added: “I just needed to step up my game and consistency was a key target I had to focus on. I think I’m finding that now.

“I’ve watched a bit of the NRL, so I know what some of the New Zealand players are about and they’re massive. It’s not all about size, though, there’s skill and fitness too and we feel we’ve got the team to do it.

“But today’s game is massive. With the injures we’ve got and where we’re both at in the table – we’re just getting around that top four – no team can afford to lose.

“If we drop points now, it puts a lot of pressure on the team.”

Meanwhile, Connor’s Hull team-mate Scott Taylor has been called up to the England squad to replace injured prop George Burgess, who suffered a knock in South Sydney’s NRL win over Parramatta.

 

JAKE Connor already has his fighting talk lined up ahead of his England bow – and one of his soon-to-be team-mates is his target.