Two Featherstone Lions players have been given the opportunity of a lifetime as they have been included in the BARLA Lions 25-man squad for their tour of Fiji.
Ian Jackson and Dean Gamble have been rewarded for being two of the Featherstone side’s most consistent performers and they will travel to the South Pacific later this year where they will tour the island nation from November 9 - 25.
Gamble, 29, a scaffolding design engineer from Pontefract has previously toured with BARLA under-18s and under-21s, visiting Australia and Russia. Jackson, 30, who works as a self-employed roofer has been selected for his first international tour after impressing while playing for BARLA Yorkshire last season.
“It is my first call-up with England, I can’t wait to go. It is still a few months away but it is coming up pretty fast,” said Jackson.
“I was buzzing about it when I found out.”
Gamble said: “I have travelled a couple times with BARLA, I went to Australia with the under-18s and that was a really good three weeks.
“I went over to Russia in 2010 with the under-21 side but there are a few lads going who have done more than me.
“Fiji is a beautiful place and it is coming up in the rugby league world so it will be good to see where they are at as well. It will be good to test myself, I am getting old now so it is nice to get another tour in.”
Gamble has played for Featherstone for 21 years, coming through the ranks as a junior before breaking into the open age side.
He and Jackson are both grateful that they will get the chance to play side by side when the tour kicks off in November.
“It is really good, it shows that the club is going in the right direction as well,” added Gamble.
“It is always nice to go on a tour with one of your teammates as it makes it that bit more special.”
Jackson said: “It makes it better having someone you know on the team.
“Dean is a good pal of mine as well and there are a few other lads we know from playing with Yorkshire.”
All amateur players travelling to Fiji are required to raise £2,500 to finance their trip.
Gamble and Jackson have combined their fund-raising efforts and are almost halfway to their total.
They are currently holding a raffle and are finalising plans to host a fundraising event in September.
The top raffle prize is 12 signed shirts – one from each Championship club. While the second-placed prize is two tickets to this year’s Million Pound Game.
Tickets for the raffle can be bought at the Featherstone clubhouse or by contacting the Lions Facebook page.