England World Cup star on wheelchair rugby league's evolvement - "We've gone from shadows"

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INTERVIEW: England wheelchair rugby league prima and World Cup ambassador James Simpson spoke to Mirror Sport connected the athletics going from sports halls with nary spectators to elite arenas

James Simpson is an ambassador for the Rugby League World Cup

James Simpson is an ambassador for the Rugby League World Cup

For England rugby league leader James Simpson, adversity has simply fixed mode to opportunity.

Back successful 2009, portion serving with the 1st Battalion Yorkshire Regiment successful Afghanistan, helium mislaid his legs successful an IED explosion. It finished his vocation successful the army, but aft spending 3 years becoming accustomed to utilizing prosthetic legs, it paved the mode for different peculiar journey.

Simpson, an ambassador for the 2021 Rugby League World Cup, is presently flourishing for nine and country. And successful an interrogation with Mirror Sport , helium explained wherever the passionateness helium has for the crippled - arsenic a subordinate and a instrumentality - derives from.

“It (the sport) genuinely changed my life," helium said, with undeniable conviction. "I was a mates of months retired the army, I had nary absorption and didn’t cognize what I wanted to do. I got into this crippled to play for amusive and fittingness and to conscionable radical - and I went connected to play for England. Then I went connected to play successful a World Cup successful 2017. Now I’ve been asked to beryllium an ambassador for this World Cup.

“The crippled enactment maine done each these antithetic directions and opportunities I ne'er thought I’d get. That's wherefore I get truthful passionate astir it. What it’s doing for maine it tin bash for truthful galore much people."

When Simpson started retired of course, things were precise different. Whether helium was representing his beloved Leeds Rhinos oregon England, matches were tucked distant successful sports halls with funny outsiders having to watercourse games connected their phones via Facebook. But travel November 3, Simpson and co volition unfastened up their World Cup bid against Australia astatine the Copper Box Arena successful London, which boasts a capableness of 6,000.

Simpson is simply a regular of Leeds and England (


Ed Sykes/SWpix.com)

Matches volition beryllium shown by the BBC and Simpson lauded the existent planetary exposure, and thinks the tourney volition lone service to boost that notion: “We've gone from the shadows," helium said. "We’re getting the accidental to play successful these monolithic arenas unrecorded connected TV and it’s each getting pushed. Us and the women are getting pushed the aforesaid arsenic the men.

“It’s each a level playing tract and we consciousness similar we are portion of this monolithic England squad incorporating the women and the men. The World Cup is similar 1 immense lawsuit that everyone feels portion of equally.

"We’ve got 8 teams competing and immoderate of those teams don’t get to play regular planetary games. So it’s an accidental for them to travel implicit and spot however we play, however we bash things, and past spell backmost to their respective countries and beryllium similar ‘how bash we get amended astatine this?’ It’s exposing those different nations to a antithetic mode of thinking."

Simpson besides believes youngsters and chap disablement athletes volition beryllium 'blown away' by the accomplishment connected amusement implicit the adjacent fewer weeks, but on with his burning tendency to assistance turn the sport, helium and his teammates person a occupation to do. England prevailed successful the archetypal ever wheelchair World Cup successful 2008, with France taking the 2013 and 2017 events.

But unarguably, the 2021 volition beryllium the biggest yet, a origin Simpson is intelligibly acceptable to embrace: “I’m feeling truly good. It’s lone the 4th World Cup we’ve had successful rugby league but it’s ne'er been connected this scale," helium crowed.

"It’s going to beryllium huge. We’re (England) going into it truly assured that we’re going to marque the last and triumph it. The full World Cup, the preparation, the enactment we’ve had, and being the location federation gets you a batch of backing. We couldn’t person asked for anymore and this is the clip we are going to spell retired - and we’re going to triumph it.”

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