Brett Ferres has returned to England with a spring in his step – despite his country failing to beat Australia and New Zealand and missing out on a place in the Four Nations final.
The Huddersfield vice-captain was a substitute in all three of England’s tournament clashes.
He came on and played big minutes in the second row in the 32-26 opening-day triumph over Samoa before doing the same in the narrow 16-12 defeat to Australia, when England were denied victory after the video referee ruled against a last-second ‘try’ by Ryan Hall.
That was followed by the unfamiliar sight of Ferres coming off the bench to play at hooker in the dramatic 16-14 defeat to New Zealand.
It was a role Ferres hasn’t played before.
But even though it involved a major adjustment for the 28-year-old – although it didn’t prevent him topping his team’s tackle count with 39 and just one miss – the Huddersfield star only has positive memories of his time Down Under.
“We were disappointed as a group that we didn’t reach the final,” reflected Ferres, who is now having a well-earned break before returning to Giants pre-season training in just over a month’s time.
“But we still came back from the tournament feeling positive about the future. We believe we’ve closed the gap on Australia and New Zealand, they just seem to know how to close games out more effectively than we can.
“And what’s even more positive is the fact we’re such a young squad, with the bulk of the players going to be around the international scene for a number of years to come.
“That’s a clear sign there are exciting times ahead for England. The belief among the group is growing all the time.
“I’d obviously love to think I’ll be part of that England set-up, in whatever position that might be.
“I know a lot has been said about me playing hooker in that final game against New Zealand.
“But I was more than happy to play there, because I was playing for my country and I’d play anywhere for England. You play whatever role your coach wants you to play.
“It would be the same at the Giants. If Baloo asks me to play in a different position, then that’s exactly what I’ll do.
“That’s the nature of the game.”
Yet even thought Ferres is only now taking a break after a long Super League campaign with the Giants and having played in all three of England’s Four Nations clashes, he’s feeling relatively fresh.
“I don’t feel too bad at all,” added Ferres.
“The body’s okay and I still feel pretty fresh.
“Even though it was a long, old season with the Giants, you do get a lift when you come together with the England boys.
“It’s a fresh set of players, a fresh set of coaches and the challenge of taking part in a new competition, in this case the Four Nations.
“There’s also the added excitement of knowing you’re going to be testing yourself against the world’s best players, Challenges don’t come any better than that.
“So I felt great when we set off to Australia, and I found the whole experience of this tour absolutely fantastic. I wouldn’t have missed it for anything.
“It means I’ve come back to England in a good, positive frame of mind, and looking forward to getting back with the boys at the Giants.
“As soon as I got back to England I popped into the club to see everyone.
“There was a really positive feel about the place, and our new gym is brilliant. I know how much I’m going to enjoy being back with the boys.
“But for now I know I need to spend a bit of time chilling and recharging the batteries so I’ll be able to give the Giants 100% when I do start my pre-season work.
“Like everyone else at the club, after a disappointing end to the season I’m 100% determined to make sure there’s no repeat the next time around.”