Moss Vale athlete Tirawa Gristwood has been selected for the Indigenous Australian Invitational Rugby team.
Gristwood will embark on an 18-day tour of the United States and Canada, as a part of the national under 20s side in 2018.
The rugby player will visit to Los Angeles, New York and Vancouver in his travels.
The under 20s team will play six games against several university teams, including Long Beach University.
In addition to this, players will take part in cultural trips as well as training sessions to learn rugby union techniques.
The opportunity was one Gristwood never expected to receive.
The rugby player was going to try out for the Australian School Boys Competition but was unable to make the trial.
The manager of the team got in contact with him, and invited him to apply for the Indigenous Australian Rugby Team.
To Gristwood’s surprise, he was accepted into the team.
The trip will be Gristwood’s first time visiting the United States and Canada.
“It’s pretty exciting, especially because we’re going overseas,” he said.
The games will prove challenging for Gristwood, as he will switch codes from rugby league to rugby union.
“Mostly the rules will be the biggest challenge, and the rucks,” he said.
“If you’re playing fullback, you need to know when to kick the ball.”
Gristwood will join 27 rugby union players from New South Wales, Queensland and Victoria.
He will play under head coach John Browne from Townsville, forwards coach Bernard Green from Townsville and backs coach and technical adviser David Conyers from Bathurst.
The assistant manager will be Kelli Smith from Queanbeyan, head trainer will be Wade Smith from Queanbeyan and trainer will be Faith Donahue from Queanbeyan.
The physiotherapist will be James Pearce from Canberra, player mentor will be Peter Nugent from Bathurst, backs coach will be Adam Fahey and team patron will be Sean Armistead from Melbourne.
Gristwood will meet his fellow team members at a training camp in Townsville in September 2018.
In the meantime, he will spend a lot of time training in the lead-up to his international trip.
Gristwood said he felt confident about taking on the university teams with his side.
“It’ll be a physical game but I think we should be fine,” he said.