Lee Mossop continues English forwards tradition in Australia
Lee Mossop became the latest in a long line of English forwards to make an impact in Australian rugby league on his NRL bow for Parramatta Eels against North Queensland Cowboys last week.
The 25-year-old Cumbrian prop, who moved from Wigan to west Sydney last winter, followed in the footsteps of compatriots Malcolm Reilly, Brian Lockwood, Lee Crooks, Adrian Morley and James Graham in continuing a tradition of tough 'Poms' when he went up against the Cowboys' State of Origin duo of James Tamou and Matt Scott on his debut.
What made the former Wigan front-rower's effort all the more impressive was that it was also his first match back after a shoulder operation during the off-season.
"I'd have preferred it that way," Mossop told BBC Radio Manchester.
- 111 appearances for Wigan, nine tries
- Five England caps
- Two Challenge Cups and one Super League Grand Final success
- One appearance for Parramatta Eels
"Being thrown in at the deep end, against a New South Wales front-rower (Tamou) and a Queensland front-rower (Scott), to get in against them and see where I am in relation to the best players is the best way to test myself.
"I'm nowhere near where I want to be yet but I was happy with my first hit-out, how it went and it's a bit of confidence knowing I played against two very good players."
Mossop had been living and playing with the knock for some time but delayed treatment as his career began to take off at Wigan under Shaun Wane, with silverware and international honours coming his way before the move down under.
"I had a shoulder injury that lasted maybe two years, I did it in the (2011) Challenge Cup final and dislocated it but managed to rehab it and get through to the end of the season so I put off surgery.
"Then the same happened a year later as I got picked by England for the first time and I didn't want to miss out so I put it off and put it off.
"The longer it went the more and more it affected me, during the week and in training I was constantly doing rehab and I couldn't play how I wanted, tackle how I wanted - it affected me that much.
"When I got over here after the World Cup it was time for a fresh start and to get it sorted, I had the surgery, done five months rehab and I'm back playing now so hopefully it's all behind me now."
Parramatta coach Brad Arthur and football manager Daniel Anderson have nurtured Mossop since his arrival in Australia after the World Cup, sanctioning the surgery and subsequent rehabilitation period.
An Englishman in Parra
Lee Mossop became the third Englishman to wear the Parra colours, following on from Vince Fawcett and Chris Thorman. Three-quarter Fawcett ended his spell in the ARL with 14 appearances while five-eighth Thorman departed after 11 outings for the Eels.
Mossop returned to contact in training and played NSW Cup football for the reserve grade, but admitted the fears of a repeat injury lingered before his Eels debut.
"Not because it's the NRL, because I've been out so long you do get slightly nervous with the injury as the worst could happen and it could go again," he added.
"But every game, every contact and tackle you make you get more assurance, the physio team said it might take another six weeks to feel comfortable with the shoulder.
"The last week or so leading into the Cowboys game I was told early I would be playing so I had plenty of time to get my head round it."
With the Burgess quartet at Souths, five-eighth Gareth Widdop and prop Mike Cooper at St George, fellow prop Graham at Canterbury and centre Jack Reed at Brisbane, English talent continues to make its mark in the NRL.
Their success is a huge fillip for England coach Steve McNamara, as they continue to light up a competition where elite status is borne out by the quality of the Australian Kangaroos side, although Mossop remains a fan of the Super League competition.
"The Aussies like to rate the NRL competition as the best in the world and they're probably not wrong," Mossop said.
"It's a lot faster but a lot of people expect it to be harder but I think Super League is a more physical competition.
"However the rule changes - the ruck speed stands out - make it relentless and that speed is something I've had to get used to."
Lee Mossop was speaking to BBC Radio Manchester's Phil Kinsella.