DESPITE a shortened off-season Saints prop forward Alex Walmsley can’t wait to get the upcoming Super League campaign started, writes Jack Coslett.

Saints take on last season’s league leaders Castleford Tigers in the opener on February 2 – a fixture that provided arguably the best game of the 2017 season and one ‘Big Al’ is eager to get his teeth into.

He said: “It’s a match I’m looking forward to.

"We’ve got a few weeks of pre-season left building up to that but hopefully we will have a good start against Cas and kick on for a nice 2018.”

The saints man remains wary of his opening opposition as he prepares for the tests that lie ahead.

“It’s going to be a tough opener. They were the best team last year,” Walmsley said.

“Throughout the year they looked consistently the best and there’s no better way to start the season than to play the best at home.

“It should give us a good gauge as to where we are as a club and where we're going to be this season.”

Making more metres than any other player in Super League last season, the Cumbrian’s good form earned him a place in Wayne Bennett’s England World Cup side at the end of 2017, an opportunity he did not take for granted.

He said: “It was a good experience, I took a lot away from it.

"I’ve built as a player because of the experiences there, and the opposition and the players that you’re with. I took a lot out of that eight weeks.”

Standing tall against the best opposition in the world, on the biggest stage of them all, Walmsley turned a few heads while representing his country Down Under.

“To play in the World Cup final against Australia is a huge achievement that I’m very proud of,” he said.

Big Al’s towering presence among stars of the international game left lingering rumours of a lucrative NRL move for the Saints star.