England call-up Adam Milner says new captain James Graham helped him believe he belongs in the national side.
The pair will help cover the loss of injured skipper Sean O’Loughlin in Sunday’s second test against New Zealand at Anfield, with Milner coming onto the bench and Graham leading the side.
Castleford loose forward Milner has been rewarded for several seasons of consistency at the Tigers, having made his England debut just two weeks ago against France.
And he says that veteran prop Graham made him feel immediately at home in Wayne Bennett’s squad.
Milner said: “Jammer has given me lots of advice, he’s collared me a few times and told me I deserve to be here and I should back myself.
“Coming from such an experienced member of the squad is phenomenal really.
“Getting an arm around you from him is something special.
“It was disappointing to miss out last week but I saw the boys get the win, and I wanted to be a part of it.
“It’s not the way I wanted to come into the team, with Lockers being injured, but I’m going to grab it with both hands.”
O’Loughlin now faces a race against time to overcome his calf complaint in time for the third test at Elland Road, with Luke Thompson taking his place in the starting line-up after impressing against the Kiwis on Saturday.
Coach Wayne Bennett said: “Luke was really good, he brought lots of energy and he didn’t seem to get tired.
“He’s got good leg speed for the position he plays in.
“I like Adam’s enthusiasm, he tries extremely hard with everything he does.
“I’ve watched him play a fair bit at Castleford and he’s always full of energy and never short of drive to try and inspire his team-mates.”
Milner added that Bennett has told him to keep it simple in Liverpool.
He said: “Run hard, tackle hard is what he wants me to do.
“Watching the boys last week, that’s what they did.
“They might not be as big as the Kiwis but it puts you a long way if you’re doing those little things right.”
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