SHAUN LUNT will look to his England experience to help inspire the Giants to even more Super League success.
The 23-year-old hooker was called up to the national squad in the build-up to last Saturday’s England v France Gillette Fusion Test in which club teammate Kevin Brown played a major role in the big 60-6 success.
But Lunt was released by England coach Steve McNamara on Wednesday afternoon after being told he would not be included in the final 18-man squad.
The Cumbrian instead featured for the Giants in Friday’s 30-22 Super League defeat at St Helens, and he admits his side’s performance that night was even more disappointing than being told he wouldn’t be making his England debut!
“Last week was an incredible experience. It’s just a shame it had to end on such a negative on the Friday night,” said Lunt, who will line up for the Giants in Sunday’s Galpharm clash against Hull FC.
“I was buzzing after I got the England call just after we’d beaten Bradford and it was awesome training with the national squad. It was an amazing experience, and I just hope it’s the start.
“It would obviously have been fantastic to have played in the Test match itself but, to be honest, I never really expected to play anyway.
“I was told straight away I was being called up as cover, with my selection dependent on whether Kevin Sinfield would be fit to play or not.
“It was pretty clear Kev wasn’t too bad, so from the very first moment I arrived in the England camp I knew it was very highly unlikely I’d be playing.
“But I still had to learn all the England calls, and that was probably the toughest thing about the whole week, because as soon as I’d started to get on top of that I was back with the Giants and preparing to face Saints.
“Having said that, I was still back in Huddersfield on Thursday with an extra spring in my step and with my confidence boosted.
“I was really looking forward to the St Helens game, but that went all wrong. That was a really bad way to finish what has been an incredible week.”
But Lunt is confident both he, and his teammates, have what it take to bounce straight back against Hull on Sunday in what will be the Giants’ first game at the Galpharm in a month.
“That Saints defeat really was a massive blow,” he added.
“We went there confident of doing well, but played stupid and paid the price.
“Although we did pick up a couple of crucial injuries, we still had enough manpower to get the job done. The fact we didn’t was completely down to us.
“The key after something like this is to make sure you don’t dwell on it, pick yourself up and come back much stronger the next time, which for us means against Hull on Sunday.
“It’s going to be another huge test. They’re a quality side and seem to be back in form.
“But after the way things went for us last Friday night, and think we’re all desperate to put in a really good performance this weekend.”
Lunt will obviously be hoping to be involved in the England set-up at the end of the season, particularly now there is a commemorative match against a Cumbria representative team to raise funds for the family of the late Garry Purdham, who was a teammate of the Giants hooker at Workington.
The 31-year-old, who also played at Whitehaven, was one of 12 people killed by gunman Derrick Bird in Cumbria earlier this month, leaving a widow Ros and two young boys, Flynn and Cameron.
The Rugby Football League will raise money for the family when McNamara’s England play a select team of professional and amateur players from the county at Whitehaven’s Recreation Ground on Sunday, October 3 – the day after the Engage Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford.
The 24-man England squad will fly out to Auckland three days later for the 2010 Four Nations series in Australia and New Zealand, and the game will provide useful match practice for players not involved in the Grand Final.
“The events of a fortnight ago were a tragedy of incomprehensible proportions which afflicted a region where rugby league is an intrinsic part of the community,” said RFL chief executive Nigel Wood.
“Few of us can imagine what the Purdham family have gone through since they lost Garry but everyone within rugby league wants to do the right thing by them and this game will achieve just that.”