Greenwood's vow to push World Cup claims
He has described his first year in the NRL as a "roller-coaster" but the dream of representing England at the Rugby League World Cup later this year is driving Titans forward Joe Greenwood to finish the season strongly against the Roosters.
At $8.50 the Titans will start as the longest outsiders of the season when they run on to Allianz Stadium on Saturday afternoon against a Roosters team looking for a finals tune-up and a guaranteed home final in week one.
Fielding an almost unrecognisable team to the one that would have been expected to take the field in Round 1, the Titans face an uphill battle to prevent a seventh straight loss to end their 2017 season that has already claimed the scalp of head coach Neil Henry.
Greenwood made his NRL debut against the Roosters in Round 1 after arriving in Australia earlier in the week and has exceeded his own expectations by appearing in 21 games to date and averaging 67 minutes, 66 metres and 26 tackles per game.
Yet to earn his first Test cap for England, Greenwood has been included in Wayne Bennett's 31-man elite training squad for the World Cup that opens with the Kangaroos facing England in Melbourne on October 27 and is desperate to push his claims further with a good display against the Roosters.
Greenwood was a 20-year-old coming through the ranks at St Helens when New Zealand pipped England in the final minute of the World Cup semi-final four years ago and he said the flame that was lit that day still burns brightly.
"You dream of it as a kid so you want to be involved as much as you can," Greenwood said of an England call-up.
"I remember watching it last time back home when it were raining in England and I just had a dream of me walking out there with the England jersey on.
"I was watching it from home when they pipped them in the last couple of minutes with [Shaun] Johnson.
"Bit gutted, bit heartbreaking for 'em because I thought they were going to do it and get to the final but it was not to be. Fingers crossed it will be this time."
One of eight players to have made their NRL debuts at the Titans this season – Keegan Hipgrave will be the ninth on Saturday – Greenwood believes his game has already developed by playing in the week to week grind of the NRL.
"I've enjoyed it. It's been like a roller-coaster ride but I've really enjoyed it and hopefully a lot more seasons to come for the Titans," Greenwood said of his maiden NRL season drawing to a close.
"It's brought me out as a player. Losing some of the experienced players you probably have to have a bit more leadership in yourself which I've never had before.
"That's been really good and really young at the age of 24 I've still got a few more years and hopefully it will bring me on as a player.
"I didn't think I'd play as much as I have done, and probably not as much minutes either.
"I'm very privileged to have the opportunity and hopefully next year come back bitter, better and stronger."
As for how a largely similar playing group will return for pre-season given the highs and lows they have experience in 2017, Greenwood has no doubt they will be a more united force next season for what they have been through.
"Of course it will. We're still a young side and the more we stick together as players and have fun together it brings a lot of confidence, to play with each other we'll get to know how each other plays," said Greenwood.
"We're still young and we've got plenty of years left in us as a group.
"We've got everything to prove. These past couple of weeks that have gone by there has been a lot of stuff that has gone on and we just need to finish high as a group."