Jamie Hughes chats to Alex Moss ahead of making his Six Nations debut in Ireland this weekend
Will lightning strike twice in 2016? England’s men relinquished the British International Championships to Wales in April, and now they head to Ireland this weekend vying to keep hold of their Six Nations Cup crown they successfully defended last year.
Handed the task of retaining the Six Nations Cup for England this weekend is Scott Mitchell, Jamie Hughes, Mark McGeeney, Dennis Harbour and James Hurrell.
For Hughes, who has reached the semi-finals on his last two visits to Lakeside, in both the World Championship and the World Trophy, he will be in a much different position in this year’s Six Nations than he was last year.
“I was watching it at home last time,” he recalls. “I remember it went to the deciding leg.
“Mark McGeeney was playing in the final leg and when I saw it was him I thought ‘England have won this now’ because he’s a very good man to have on at the end. He’s got balls of steel.”
Hughes makes his debut in the Six Nations this weekend, but will be hoping his recent experiences playing for England in the British Internationals and the WDF World Cup will stand him in good stead.
“The format is quite similar to the World Cup where you’re scheduled to play one leg against every one of the opposition’s players,” he said.
“It’s the same as the World Cup team event, so I’m hoping the experience of the World Cup will help me in this one. I found out I was in the team just after the British Internationals so I’ve had a little while to prepare for it.”
“I’m ticking along nicely but I know there’s a lot more left in the tank”
England have been drawn in Group B, along with Wales and the hosts Republic of Ireland.
While in Group A, last year’s beaten finalists Netherlands are joined by Scotland and Northern Ireland.
“Obviously Wales are on a high after winning the British Internationals,” Hughes said.
“Republic of Ireland are in their own back yard and will have an extra couple of percent support.
“They’ll be up for it. They’re on home turf so they won’t want to lose on their own patch.
“It will be tough for us but hopefully we’ve got enough to be winning it at the end.”
Wales ended England’s seven-year reign as British Internationals champions in April. England were slow out of the blocks and Hughes admits that played a big part in their unsuccessful title defence.
“I can remember I made my debut there three years ago I had to play first on really early,” he said. “It was quite similar this year to the time before.
“The time before we went 4-0 down but we brought it back that day. We didn’t manage to bring it back this time.
“But I think with the early start we got caught cold really against Wales and they used it to their advantage. They obviously turned us over.”
Hughes is hoping for a change in fortunes for England in Ireland this weekend. England are aiming for a third Six Nations title in a row, to follow on from triumphs in Wales and Northern Ireland in 2014 and 2015.
“It takes the pressure off the people behind you if you can have a good start,” he said.
“I’ve done well in the World Trophy and I’m ticking along nicely, but I still know there’s a lot more left in the tank.
“Hopefully I can get a lot better preparation in for Lakeside this year.
“I’d like to have a good run in the Masters and it would nice if I could pick up a ranking title along the way too.”