ADRIAN MORLEY will be the proudest man in England when he runs out for his 50th international appearance in tomorrow’s Gillette Four Nations final.
The veteran front-row forward will become the most capped player in the history of British rugby league but he would swap all the trappings of his 17-year career for a victory against Australia at Elland Road.
The 34-year-old Morley, who made his international debut as a teenager with Leeds in 1996, will overtake the record jointly held by Garry Schofield and Mick Sullivan when he reaches the half-century mark.
“It was only at the start of this series when one of the journalists said if you play every game and get to the final it will be 50, which was mind-boggling at first,” he said. “It’s still not sunk in really yet.
“When I first started playing I didn’t think I’d get to this milestone.
“I missed a lot of Tests through injury early on in my career but I’ve had a bit of luck with injuries in the last few years and also played longer than I probably thought I would.
“Records are for when you finish playing but I’m very proud to reach 50.”
Morley will share top billing in Leeds with Australian captain Darren Lockyer, who will extend his world record of caps to 59.
However, while Lockyer, who is two months older than the Warrington captain, will hang up his boots after tomorrow’s match, Morley has no intention of following suit.
“I’ve always said to whoever the England coach is, if I’m playing well enough for my club and he wants me to play, I’ll always put my hand up for England,” Morley said.
“It’s a huge honour, it’s your duty really. I think players retire too early from international duty. It has meant the world to me and still does.
“I want to play as many games as I can. It means more to me now than it ever has because I know it’s coming to the end really but, if I am playing well for Warrington next year and Steve (McNamara) says he wants me, I am more than happy to play.”
Morley, who led the Wolves to their first Super League top-of-the-table finish this year, is not looking as far as the 2013 World Cup but is determined to be still playing this time next year.
“I’ve one year left on my contract,” he said.
“I don’t want to commit beyond that but I know I’ve definitely next year in me.
“Next May or June I will make a decision about the following year. I’m still enjoying it and that’s the number one factor for me.
“If I get to the point where training is a chore or I am not enjoying playing for some reason, I will retire.
“I feel as though I’ve gone on longer than I thought I would anyway so, if it finished tomorrow, I would still be quite proud of the way it’s gone but I’ve got next year and I’ll see what happens then.”
Morley has won Challenge Cup and Grand Final medals, captained his country and been involved in one-off victories over Australia but says a win in Saturday’s final would provide a fitting climax to his career.
“I would swap all the records for a win on Saturday, without a doubt,” he said.
“I’ve played for a long time without having a great deal of success internationally.
“So to beat the Aussies in such a big game, I’d swap all my caps and even everything I’ve won for my clubs.”
Second rower Gareth Ellis is named in a 21-man England squad after fully recovered the back injury that forced him to miss last Saturday’s 28-6 win over New Zealand.
Warrington prop Garreth Carvell has kept his place in the enlarged squad.