Greta Branxton Colts utility Alex Kowalski selected in Poland's national rugby league team for historic international match

LODZ is a long way from the Hunter Valley - in fact, it's almost 16,000km.

But, for versatile Greta Branxton Colts utility Alex Kowalski, the Polish city will be his "home" later in the year.

The wily stalwart, who's currently in his 23rd season with the Bengalla Hunter Valley Group 21 Rugby League club, has been selected in the country's national team to play its first-ever international match on September 28.

He'll join fellow Australian Exiles Shane Young (Northern Suburbs Illawarra Bulldogs), Chippie Korostckuk (Townsville Blackhawks/Western Lions RLFC), Nathan Michalowski (Mt Kembla/Port Kembla), Mark Chmurycz (Kiama Knights/Shellharbour Sharks), Norbert Balacinski (Townsville Central/Nambour Crushers) and Damian Murphy (Northern Suburbs Illawarra Bulldogs), along with Stephen Kolodziej and Liam Siejka, in the historic encounter.

And, in doing so, Kowalski becomes Poland's 23rd Test player after captaining the side at the Emerging Nations World Championships (ENWC) in Sydney last October.

"It's a privilege to be named," he said.

"I'm keen to nurture Polish rugby league, as well as the sport's brand, while I'm over there.

"We'll also be conducting coaching and development clinics.

"I am sure it's something I'll never forget."

The grandson of Polish immigrants, who relocated to the Greta Army and Migrant Camp at the end of World War II, Kowalski is proud of his ethnicity.

However, his emergence as a Test star came about by chance.

"I was trying to organise a couple of mates to play overseas, so I contacted Shane Young from the Poland Rugby League Australian Exiles," the 30-year-old said.

"The next thing I knew, I'm playing in the ENWC and leading the team.

"We beat Hungary 30-0 in a warm-up match, then accounted for Japan 58-6, Hong Kong 62-6 and Vanuatu 44-4 before winning the Trophy, thanks to a 14-10 win over the Philippines.

"It's going to be a tough game in September.

"We'll have a couple of guys from the United Kingdom in the squad - all up, about eight outsiders including myself.

"But, this international fixture is now a showpiece for Poland Rugby League.

"So, it'll be interesting to play a game in Lodz.

"I'm proud to represent my ancestors' heritage, as well as the migrants who did it tough all those years ago.

"However, I wouldn't be able to achieve this without the support of my family, friends and especially my loving partner/fiancé Emily and our children (Archer, Addison and Ayla - with baby No 4 due in December)."

In the meantime, Kowalski is focused on finishing strongly with the Colts, who currently occupy seventh spot on the ladder.

"It's been a tough couple of years," he admitted.

"Although, it was nice to score a double against the Singleton Greyhounds at the weekend.

"Hopefully, the club comes back better next season.

"After two knee reconstructions, I'll admit my time is winding down with the Colts.

"I'm playing every game as if it's my last.

"In the long run, I hope Group 21 can send a group of well-deserving players over [to Poland] to help develop the game over there in a couple of years' time or even as part of a player-exchange program."

To assist the Polish representatives achieve their dream, individual sponsorship packages are available.

If you'd like more information, contact the Facebook page Polska XIII Rugby League Exiles Australia or polandxiiiexilesaus@gmail.com

Round nine results

First grade - Scone d Singleton 60-6, Aberdeen d Denman 28-20

Reserve grade - Scone d Muswellbrook 32-6, Merriwa d Murrurundi 16-14, Aberdeen d Denman 42-8, Singleton d Greta Branxton 24-14

Under-18s - Scone drew with Muswellbrook 12-all, Aberdeen drew with Denman 12-all

League tag - Scone d Muswellbrook 58-0, Murrurundi d Merriwa 10-0, Aberdeen d Denman 40-4

Points

First grade - Scone 18, Aberdeen 8, Singleton 6, Denman 4

Reserve grade - Merriwa 16, Scone 15, Aberdeen 13, Singleton 12, Muswellbrook 10, Murrurundi 2, Greta Branxton 2, Denman 0

Under-18s - Singleton 17, Muswellbrook 11, Aberdeen 10, Scone 9, Denman 5

League tag - Scone 18, Murrurundi 14, Merriwa 13, Singleton 9, Muswellbrook 8, Aberdeen 6, Denman 2

Round 10 draw

Saturday, July 6 -

(at Greta Branxton)

3pm: reserve grade, Greta Branxton v Aberdeen

(at Merriwa)

2pm: Merriwa v Muswellbrook

3pm: Merriwa v Muswellbrook

Sunday, July 7 -

(at Denman)

10.20am: league tag, Denman v Murrurundi

11.20am: under-18s, Denman v Muswellbrook

12.30pm: reserve grade, Denman v Murrurundi

2pm: first grade, Denman v Aberdeen

(at Scone)

10.20am: league tag, Scone v Singleton

11.20am: under-18s, Scone v Singleton

12.30pm: reserve grade, Scone v Singleton

2pm: first grade, Scone v Singleton