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Friday, 01 August 2014

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Homegrown stars head back with pride to county

HOMEGROWN Super League star James Donaldson says it was ‘pretty emotional’ heading back to the Recreation Ground with the England Knights last weekend.

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HOMEGROWN ENGLAND PAIR: England’s James Donaldson, left, and Lee Mossop, team up to tackle Cumbria’s Will Sharp

Donaldson, along with fellow West Cumbrian Lee Mossop, was part of the Knights team who took on Cumbria in Whitehaven on Saturday, winning 26-12.

“It was an odd feeling, not having played here for a while, apart from with Bradford a few years ago,” said the youngster, who now plies his trade with the Bulls.

“I used to played amateur games here at this ground and finals so it was pretty emotional for me.

“My family travel down to Bradford every week so it was nice to give something back to them, they didn’t have to travel for once.”

And he paid tribute to a resilient Cumbria side, who gave the Knights a stern test.

“We knew it would be difficult coming to Whitehaven, Cumbria never take these games lightly,” he said.

“The pitch obviously is not what we are used to and that slowed us down a bit.

“I was very impressed with them, they always put strong side out whether the players are in Super League, Championship or Championship One.

“They treated this game as a World Cup final and they really got stuck into us, for many this is their chance to prove something.

“I thought they were all good, they carried the ball strongly and controlled the ruck well, they made it hard for us to play our normal game.”

Donaldson is now taking a couple of weeks off and will be spending some time back in West Cumbria and perhaps going back to his amateur roots at Wath Brow Hornets for some training.

“I will start to prepare myself for what will hopefully be a better season than last year for us,” he added.

Former Hensingham amateur Lee Mossop said it was fantastic to play for his country in Whitehaven, in front of his proud parents – and up against his older brother Jason, who was wearing the colours of Cumbria.

“It was definitely a proud moment for me, I was really up for this game but I have to say I would have been equally as proud to have pulled on the Cumbria jersey,” said Mossop.

“It was a great game for my family as well, with both myself and Jason playing.

“My dad texted me before the game to say how proud he was for me and that felt great.”

Mossop says Cumbria gave the Knights a really good test and praised skipper Kyle Amor for his showing.

“I don’t think you could look further than Kyle Amor, I think he epitomised what a captain’s performance should be,” added Mossop.

“We were under no illusions as to what sort of game it would be and Cumbria didn’t disappoint.”

Now Mossop will have a few weeks off before returning to Wigan to begin pre-season training for the 2012 Super League campaign.

“I have got about four weeks to rest up and then we’ll start back in pre-season, there is a new coaching set-up and everyone will be keen to impress,” he added.

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