Bradford’s Matt Cook was the first player I spoke to face to face – I used my nerves up on this interview, and was fine after that! This piece was for Thirteen’s ‘Young Guns’ and took place at Knowsley Road after England Academy had beaten France in 2005. Jason Emery sent me the questions to ask Matt.
Matt, you’re playing in the second row now but have mainly been a centre until recently. Which position do you prefer?
I prefer the second row now mainly because I can get more involved and get more action.
Do you think you’re big enough to play there?
Yeah I feel I’m big enough but would still like to get bigger but I have to be careful not to lose my speed.
So has playing in the centres helped your attacking skills?
With you being just 18, your Bulls coach Brian Noble seems to be gradually giving you more and more game time. Are you happy with your impact to date?
Yes, it’s been brilliant so far to get an opportunity. It’s been great training with Jamie Peacock, for one, and being taken under his wing.
Has he been the biggest help?
Jamie has done a lot with him being a second row too but Robbie Paul as well with him being the squad captain. They’ve all got good advice for me.
Do you train full time with the first-team squad?
Yeah I do.
How big a decision was it to choose league over union?
It wasn’t that tough to be honest. I enjoyed union and stuck with it until last year to get the international experience.
At what age groups did you play for at union international level for England?
I played 16s, 18s and 19s. Up until last year I was playing both.
What do you remember of your Academy debut v Leeds in August 2003?
It was great. I scored two tries…a good debut!
In recent Super League games you’ve displayed the ability to offload the ball superbly in the tackle. Have you been working hard on these skills or does it come naturally?
A bit of both really. I’ve always been able to offload but it still needs a lot of work especially at first team level.
Going back in time, twelve months ago you toured Australia and New Zealand with the history making England Academy team. What has that tour done for your confidence and development?
Yeah it was great and a big help to me. To beat the Aussies down under and have a 50% record against New Zealand as well was fantastic. A lot of the lads are now playing Super League.
Once again you were a part of the England Academy set up against France in June.
It was great. We got together late on in the week for this game and it was a bit of a walkover in the end.
What are your goals for the rest of the season?
To stay in the first team at the Bulls and cement a spot for next season.
Which team did you support as a youngster?
I didn’t really have a favourite when I was younger but over the last few years I’ve become Bulls through and through.
Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Jamie Peacock again. Outside the club then Andy Farrell and most of the Great Britain squad.