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Lewis reflects on tough Roos initiation

A Kangaroos tour Luke Lewis once thought he'd want to forget has become an experience he cherishes a decade on.
Lewis reflects on tough Roos initiation
by AAP

By Liam FitzGibbon

LONDON, Oct 29 AAP - A Kangaroos tour Luke Lewis once thought he'd want to forget has become an experience he cherishes a decade on.

Australia's 2003 tour to the UK was a tough introduction to international rugby league for Lewis, who earned selection after helping Penrith to the 2003 NRL premiership as a 20-year-old.

Lewis was snubbed by then-Australian coach Chris Anderson and did not play in a single official tour game, even overlooked for left-field selection Darren Smith in the inconsequential final game.

The young centre was devastated and he had to wait another six years for another call-up to the Kangaroos.

Ten years and 14 Test appearances later, Lewis is again in the UK but now a crucial part of the Australian set-up at the Rugby League World Cup.

Having been through so much on and off the field since, he looks back on the 2003 experience as one of the most important in his career.

"If I didn't have the experience then I probably wouldn't know what I know now," Lewis said.

"You come over here when you're a young guy and everything happens so fast and you find out not everything pans out the way you expect it to happen.

"When you go through the highs and the lows, you learn as you go.

"And when you're older and you've been there and done it you know how to handle it a lot better.

"Looking back it was great to come over here to England and see the world and I got to play (in warm-up games) and with some of the great players like Darren Lockyer.

"I'm grateful for everything that's happened to me and I'm grateful to be here now and getting another opportunity to pay in the World Cup."

Now 30 and with Cronulla, the versatile Lewis has achieved plenty in the game.

Along with his premiership success with the Panthers, he also featured in a winning State of Origin series in 2004, a feat few of his current crop of NSW teammates can boast.

But like Kangaroos teammates including Billy Slater, Cameron Smith and Johnathan Thurston, he knows this could be the last chance to add a World Cup crown to his resume.

"It went through my head all year I'd love the opportunity to be here and now I am. I'd love nothing more than to go home with a World Cup success," Lewis said.

"I'd love to be able to look back as a player and a fan of the sport and be able to say I've won a grand final and a State of Origin (series) and a World Cup as well.

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