Wigan Warriors prop Ben Flower is the latest player we focus on in our series of features with members of the elite train-on squad ahead of Rugby League World Cup 2021.
The 32-year-old, who was born in Cardiff, had already earned 17 caps by 2013, but he hasn’t featured since due to a number of injury setbacks. He has also represented Wales in both rugby league and union at junior level.
Flower came through the system at the old Celtic Crusaders club, going on to feature in Super League regularly over a number of years.
After the demise of Crusaders, the prop signed for Wigan and has been with the DW Stadium outfit ever since, racking up nearly 200 appearances for the club to date.
As next year’s World Cup is likely to be the last Flower will be able to feature in, he is eager to be involved.
“I’m hopeful I’ll get the opportunity to play in it as it’s something I really want to do,” he said.
“I’ve not been able to play for Wales for the last six years or so because of operations I’ve needed to have done at the back end of the season.
“I’ve missed it a lot. I’ve missed the boys more than anything because camp is a great place to be. It’s surprising how much you miss that.”
The year leading up to a World Cup is always important as players fight for their place in the squad for the tournament.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic and the fact that Super League stars are currently the only ones in action in the UK, 2021 is likely to be different to any other year leading up to a World Cup.
Flower said: “We’re all missing the buzz of the fans and them cheering us on.
“It is different and it is strange, but we’ve got a job to do in the end of the day and that’s to go out and win.
“Hopefully, things will start getting back to normal for next season, but having game time under your belt to make sure you make the team is really important.
“Playing as well as you can when you’ve got that jersey on is probably going to be more important than ever ahead of this World Cup.”
With Flower coming through the ranks at a similar time to the likes of Wales skipper Elliot Kear, Gil Dudson, Lloyd White, Rhys Williams and others, he is delighted to see so many young, up-and-coming players around at minute.
He said: “Regan Grace is on another level at the minute and he’s matured into this player who is very special. He’s worth his weight in gold at the minute.
“It’s a shame we’ve not had chance to play many games or have training sessions since 2018 as the lads were looking really good.
“What’s great about this group, though, is that we all know each other really well and we’re always in contact with each other.”
Ben Flower’s Wales stats
- Caps: 17
- Matches won: 6, matches lost: 11
- Tries: 1, points: 4