Tackling the Lions
THE chance to play against the British and Irish Lions later this year helped drive Lennox Head rugby union player Jeff Wilson during the NSW Country Rugby Union Championships in Tamworth at the weekend.
Wilson was named in the NSW Country Cockatoos team on Tuesday night and will play for the fifth consecutive year.
A combined Australian Country side comprising NSW and Queensland players will be selected to play the Lions at Newcastle on June 12.
It's a rare opportunity for Country-based players to take on professionals and the Lions visit Australia only every 12 years.
The 33-year-old No 8 decided not to put his hand up for Country selection last year but ended up being a late inclusion.
He made himself available again this year and was picked off the back of his performance at the Country Championships.
"I'm not going to lie, the British Lions stuff had a lot to do with it," Wilson said.
"It would be the perfect way to finish my representative rugby career.
"It's pretty special because guys like (Nathan) Sharpe played for 14 years and never got the opportunity to play against the Lions.
"I'm not a definite for that game yet but I'm definitely on the right track."
Lismore City five-eighth Dudley Parsons has also been named in the NSW Country team.
Parsons is new to the area from New Zealand and Wilson said he was the pick of the five-eighths at the Country Championships.
Wilson believes FNC teammates Paul Crozier, Harry Bungate, Jamie Tredinnick and James Bain were unlucky not to make the Country side.
The British and Irish Lions comprise the best rugby union players from England, Ireland, Wales and Scotland.
"I have a young family and I'm lucky that my wife loves footy and I've been able to stay involved," Wilson said.
"She would have had to chain me down to stop me from playing this year."
Three FNC players made the NSW Country Colts side.
Daniel Damen (Wollongbar-Alstonville), Vincent Quigley (Lismore) and Grant Knight (Ballina) have been selected.
Ewen McQueen was picked as a shadow reserve with Pat Lancaster, Kye Spence and Sam Johnston unlucky to miss out.
The FNC rugby comp-etition is scheduled to start on Saturday, April 6, running through to the finals in August and September.