Proud Cumbrian Challenge Cup winner Ben Harrison is promising that England will deliver a performance of the highest calibre when they face his home county in the Garry Purdham Memorial Match at The Recreation Ground on Sunday week.
The 22-year-old Barrow-born back rower was one of the stars of the Warrington Wolves team that won Rugby League’s most famous trophy for a second successive year at Wembley last month and is looking forward to making an emotional return to Whitehaven.
Harrison, who was this week named as one of eight Warrington players in England coach Steve McNamara’s squad for the fundraising game, knows he and his team-mates will not be short of incentive when they run out at The Rec.
“It’s going to be a fantastic day and I’m sure everyone who attends will see an England team at the top of its game,” said Harrison.
“I never thought I’d ever get the chance to play for England in Cumbria, never mind against Cumbria, and it’s going to be a very special day for me personally.
“It’s also going to be special for the rest of the England boys, for lots of reasons. Of course we’re all keen to do what we can to help Garry’s family and it would be fantastic to see the people of Cumbria turn out in massive numbers.
“Rugby League means a lot to Cumbrians and we were all touched by the tragic circumstances of what happened to Garry. This is everyone’s chance to do their bit and make a difference to the lives of Garry’s wife Ros and their two children, Flynn and Cameron.”
Harrison has added motivation to show his mettle when he pulls on an England jersey for the first time – the lure of a seat on the plane that flies from Manchester Airport bound for Auckland the following Friday and a place in McNamara’s Four Nations squad.
“Being picked for the Four Nations squad would be massive for me and I know the match against Cumbria is a chance for me to show Steve that I’m worth a place on the trip,” added Harrison.
“The same goes for all the boys who play at Whitehaven. We’re all aware that competition is going to be cut-throat, especially when you look at the quality of some of the players who aren’t going to be playing because of their involvement in the Grand Final series.
“Every sportsman dreams of representing his country – hopefully this match is the start of a long international Rugby League career with England for me.”