Underbank Rangers rugby league players Owen Restall and Sam Rochford have been selected to tour Australia with the England Lions Under 23s next year.
While 2,200 names were put forward by clubs, centre Restall and hooker Rochford successfully completed trials and will head Down Under in February.
They are now busy fundraising, as they have to raise £1,800 each to make the trip to the Commonwealth Championship in Brisbane, which is a warm-up tournament for the Commonwealth Games in March.
“It’s a fantastic honour to get the chance to represent your nation, so we are really looking forward to the 10-day trip,” said Restall, 22, a former Newsome Panthers junior from Almondbury.
“They want a nine-a-side rugby league tournament to be part of the next Commonwealth Games in four years time, so that’s why the Lions are touring in Australia.
“Both myself and Sam are absolutely thrilled.
“It was brilliant to get the phone call in the first place inviting us to go training, but then to get the call after the trial game to say we’d made the squad was just fantastic.”
Restall, who can operate at full back as well as centre, has just enjoyed a highly-successful first season with the Holmfirth-based Underbank club, who won promotion to the National Premier for the first time.
Hooker Rochford, also 22 and from Meltham, has been with Underbank for three seasons but had to spend a year on the sidelines after suffering a serious knee injury.
“The tour is only in February, so we are now busy organising some fundraising events to help get us to Australia – it will be my first visit there,” explained Restall, who is a Pastoral Head of Year at Honley High School.
“We have a couple of fundraising nights sorted, including a Donkey Derby at Underbank on January 20 where we’re looking for sponsors, and we also have a Go Fund Me page set up.
“So we are hoping fans who are passionate about amateur sport and rugby league will support us on our journey.
“Every little bit of help will be very gratefully received, because the chance to represent your country at any level doesn’t come along very often and we are both keen to grasp the opportunity with both hands.”