Several amateur rugby league players from Barrow and Furness are preparing for an exciting time ahead, with the BARLA Lions tour of Fiji beginning later in the week.

Askam pair Tom Hopkins and Mark Tyson are among the 24-man squad that will be meeting up in Manchester tomorrow before flying out to for their four-match tour, which will last just over two weeks, on Saturday.

Also making the trip will be Millom’s Lee Postlethwaite and Barrow Island’s Sam Jones, while former Millom player Marcus O’Brien, who now plays for Egremont Rangers, is another name in the squad.

They become the latest in a long line of players from this area who will represent Great Britain and gain top amateur international honours.

Proud Askam head coach Dave Clark said: “It’s an opportunity for both Hoppy and Mark to represent their country at the top end of the community game and it’s a great honour.

“A lot of people from Askam in the past have represented their country and they can join the long list of players that the club have produced for that pathway.

“Those two boys, in particular, train really hard and they’re really committed and focused to the game.

“They do so much for the club off the field as well, so it’s a great honour for them and I know all the players were very happy for them and I was obviously really happy for them when they were selected.”

Millom’s Ethan Kelly was also initially called up for the tour during the summer, but has sadly had to withdraw after sustaining an injury in the Lions’ warm-up game against Cumbria last month.

BARLA’s first match will be against Fiji West, with them going on to play Australian Affiliated States and face Fiji Bati Reserves twice before returning to England on November 25.

When asked what Hopkins and Tyson will bring to the squad, Clark said: “Obviously Hoppy is very aggressive, offensively and defensively, and he knows his position really well.

“Offensively, he runs really good lines and with a lot of power and he’s a lot to contain, really, so he provides an offensive threat and a defensive threat.

“I’ve really enjoyed watching both this year and Mark has given me a lot this year, playing at centre for me at Askam, where he was a bit of a pivot towards the end of the season.

“He’s got a lot of skill, he runs a really good line and, again, he brings a lot of power and determination, plus some agility, so he’ll ask a lot of questions of whoever is in front of him, defending.”

The fact that a good portion of the squad are either playing in or from Barrow and Furness is another indication of the standard of player that the area continues to produce.

“It’s great to be recognised,” Clark said, adding: “It’s great that we’ve got that recognition of what we’re doing up here as clubs in producing players for representative pathways.

“It’s a really positive thing and I’m sure that all the coaches of the local clubs will be grateful and proud that these boys have been given an opportunity to progress.

“Cumbria has always produced players for the professional game and for the community game and it just shows that rugby league in the area is quite strong.”