Some lucky rugby league fans enjoyed a dream come true last week, when they spent a day with the England national squad.
Steve McNamara had his coaches welcomed David Fuentes, Lewis Hobson, Pat Benatmane, Robert Kilby and Adam Manani and their guests to the England training camp as a result of them winning a competition run b Kingstone Press, who are official partners of the England Rugby League team.
The lucky fans were chosen from a pool of over 4000 entrants, which was offered by Kingstone Press across their Facebook and Twitter pages, and also throughout Thwaites pubs.
Pat, who follows Hunslet, said: “I think you would have heard me screaming on the moon when I was told I’d won the chance to spending the day with the England Rugby League Team at their training camp!”
Her husband, Mehana, continued: “I knew my wife was excited because she rang me at work, while I was in the middle of a meeting, to tell me she’d won! It was a big surprise – but a great one!”
Emma Butterfield, a Leeds Rhinos supporter, said: “I was speechless when David told me he’d won and that he was taking me with him! It was an amazing opportunity to see the players up close and in person.”
Arriving at the training camp, the group of winners were welcomed by England head coach, Steve McNamara, before joining the team for a typical training camp lunch. The excited Rugby League fans had the opportunity to chat to the players, take photos and get autographs from their favourite team members.
The fans ate lunch with the squad and coaching staff, and also had the opportunity to meet the players and collect some photos and autographs.
They then headed off to enjoy a game of ten-pin bowling with the squad, as part of a team bonding session.
They were then taken back to the Loughborough training ground, and were put their rugby paces in a special session run by the England coaching staff.
Raymond Jackson, who joined his stepson Adam, commented: “We never thought we’d win when we entered the competition so we were shocked when we were told! It was a totally outstanding day, much more than we ever expected.”
David commented: “It was an amazing day, and much more than we ever expected! The players were all so friendly and it was great to be able to just relax and join in with what they were doing, like playing table tennis.
Robert, an avid York City Knights supporter, commented: “As fans of Rugby League for over 40 years, spending the day with the England rugby league team at their training camp was like a dream come true for us! The players were all so welcoming.”
Lewis and his dad Mark, who are both big Castleford Tigers fans, said: “Being presented with kit bags packed full of goodies by Ben Westwood was a real highlight for us – we got so many autographs too!”
Gordon Johncox, managing director at Kingstone Press, said: “This was a fabulous competition and well received by Rugby League fans all around the country. Well done to all of the winners and we hope they had a truly memorable experience.
“At Kingstone Press we understand how devoted Rugby League fans are and so to give a few of them the opportunity to meet their heroes is something we are proud to be able to provide.”