Newport born duo Joe Burke and Dalton Grant have played for the same clubs all their lives and this Sunday they hope to top an already memorable career by playing in the same full Wales international side for the first time.
Wales take on Ireland at The Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium in Wrexham in the European Championship (kick-off 2.30pm) looking for their first win of the campaign.
The dynamic duo, born just 17 days apart at The Royal Gwent Hospital, are now both aged 24. Burke made his Wales debut in Wrexham in 2010 against Italy while Grant first appeared for his country in last week’s loss in France.
Burke had to miss last week’s game for personal reasons but now he’s back to join his old friend in a career that’s seen them turn out together for Risca, Machen, Caerphilly Districts and the Dragons youth in rugby union while in league they’ve turned out for Newport Titans, Crusaders reserves, South Wales Scorpions and Wales under 18s.
They even made their one and only Super League appearance together, for the old Crusaders side in Wrexham in 2011 after being called up on loan from the Scorpions.
Burke played in the Scotland match in the pouring rain a fortnight ago and now he’s hoping for another cap, and better weather conditions, this Sunday in Wrexham.
“I’m really looking forward to it,” he said. “Obviously I had a taste for it playing against Scotland. Ireland beat France well so I think it’ll be a good test for us. I just hope we can kick on from the France game on the weekend. We’re in for some intense training sessions this week to rectify any problems in both attack and defence. We’ve got our heads screwed on and we’ll prepare well for Sunday.”
Grant turned out in complete opposite conditions in Albi, putting up with 25 degree heat to play well against the French.
“It was a hot day,” he said. “France started well and we got in the arm wrestle towards the end of the game but it was too late then. If we can take how we played at the end of the France game into the Ireland match this Sunday then we’ll do well.”
In 2014, the duo played for Barrow Raiders, but next year, they will, for the first time ever, play for different clubs. Grant has signed for Dewsbury Rams following Barrow’s relegation while Burke will turn out for League 1 club North Wales Crusaders ready to take on his former Scorpions side.
“Fair play to Dalton, he’s had a good season so he deserves to still be in the Championship,” Burke said. “I’m pleased to be back in Wales again turning out for the Crusaders and I’ll be looking forward to the Scorpions game at Cardiff Arms Park.”
Grant adds: “It’ll be a big experience for me, moving to the other side of the Pennines. I’m looking forward to the season ahead of me but first we want to win against Ireland this Sunday in Wrexham.”
Wales v Ireland takes place at the Glyndwr University Racecourse Stadium on Sunday 2nd November, kick-off 2.30pm. Tickets and hospitality for this match can be bought at www.walesrugbyleague.co.uk.