Poland-born Mikolaj Oledzki wants to stay in England set up after getting call

MIKOLAJ Oledzki hopes to stay in England’s league of nations after being called up just nine years after first picking up a rugby ball – and establishing it was not a wind-up.

Leeds’ Poland-born prop joined hooker Kruise Leeming, who was born in Eswatini, formerly Swaziland, Germany-born winger Tom Johnstone and Dan Sarginson, who was born in Perth, Australia, at yesterday’s first training session with boss Shaun Wane.

The call up represents a remarkable rise for Oledzki, who moved with his family to Corby, Northants, as an eight-year-old and first picked up a rugby ball at 13.

But he is determined for this not to be a one-off, even his family in Poland want to see him in the white shirt at this year’s World Cup.

Oledzki, 22, said: “Everyone is proud of me. Everyone wants the best for me and they all want me to do well.

“I’m quite fortunate that in seven years the rugby league journey has taken me this far.

“I got a phone call from Shaun on Thursday morning and it was one of the best phone calls I’ve had in my rugby career.

“I was a nice surprise and to be honest I couldn’t believe it. When I answered, I thought, ‘Is someone having me on?’

“But I’m really grateful for the opportunity Shaun gave me to be involved.

“I feel like I’ve been rewarded for putting all the effort in to be a better player.”

Wane finally got to work with England’s players on the field, 14 months after landing the national job.

But even though he had not been able to pass on what he wanted in person, he and his staff had pointed out bits in which they felt they could improve.

And Oledzki believes even that has been a boost, adding: “We had a few Zoom meetings before the season started, about what he’d like to see from us – especially the young forwards.

“Getting that reward gave me the motivation to keep on doing it, keep putting that extra effort in. I’d like to think I was there because I deserve it and I’ll do everything I can to stay here.

“He showed us a few clips highlighting areas we’re good in and ones in which we need to improve – what it takes to be an international player.

“That’s helped me. We got loads of different viewpoints from people looking at different aspects, from GPS to contact to wrestle to running with the ball.

“It was great to get someone else’s point of view.”

Wane did not ask players to go above and beyond but Joe Philbin believes just having that face-to-face contact was beneficial.

The Warrington forward said: “He kept it really basic but I feel like I learned a lot from him.”

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