Australia tour lifts Hull FC centre Crawford Matthews

Crawford Matthews
Matthews has made an impression with Scotland students, scoring seven tries in their home nations campaign

Other than Gateshead Thunder's fleeting taste of Super League in the late 1990s, the north east's impact on the top end of rugby league has been limited.

The exceptions to the rule have been Wallsend-born Chris Thorman and his brothers Neil and Paul, who have forged careers in professional game.

Chris in particular racked up 191 appearances in Europe's top division before switching to then Championship One side York, and also spent a season in Australia's elite NRL.

One man hoping to add his name to the list of north east rugby league personalities is Crawford Matthews, who has been named in the Great Britain Students squad for their 2011 tour of Australia.

Seven-tries in Scotland's Home Nations Rugby League campaign was the catalyst for the call-up, and the 19-year-old, who plays reserve grade rugby with Hull FC, became the first Scottish player to be selected in the player pool since 1999.

"There are a lot of players around the Championship, and even the lower stages of Super League that have played for GB students," Matthews told BBC Sport.

"I think it's definitely a really big experience and I'm proud to be representing Scotland, and being one of the few to represent Scotland.

"It can definitely be a springboard, not only for my club life but also for Scotland.

Crawford Matthews
Matthews has played for Scotland under-16, under-18s and A team

"There's a World Cup coming up in 2013, so there are a lot of young Scottish players pushing to get a first-team place and this will definitely help me with that if I do well in Australia."

Matthews' introduction to rugby league game with local amateur side Gateshead Panthers at the age of 14 led to a move to professional side Thunder.

"I was Crawford's first coach when he was introduced to rugby league and it was obvious he was going to be successful," RFL Development Officer John Gray told the Chronicle.

"Crawford has natural ability and is an excellent role model for young kids coming into the game.

"The fact he has been selected to represent the GB Academic Lions comes as no surprise.

"I am sure he has a long and successful future ahead of him."

Matthews joined Super League side Hull FC after enrolling at Hull University on a history and politics degree last year.

Although yet to make a first-team debut, the three-quarter has been a regular at reserve grade level in his first term with the Airlie Birds.

"We have this thing at the Hull FC academy called the 'Wall of Fame' which shows all the previous academy players that have gone through to the first team," Matthews added.

"There's just that expectation that you will make it, at least at some level and some of you at Hull first-team level.

"There's a belief that the academy system works and that rubs off on players definitely.

"This has been an adjustment year to the system, I've still got a year left of under-20s and that's when I need to push on and make my claim."

GB students travel to Singapore, Bali and Indonesia for development work and a warm-up game before a three-test series against Australia.

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