Greta Branxton Colts stalwart Alex Kowalski donates treasured Polish representative jumper to Greta Museum on eve of Silky Oak Festival

A VERY rare piece of rugby league memorabilia has been donated to the Greta Museum on the eve of the Silky Oak Festival this weekend.

The event - on Saturday and Sunday, November 9 and 10 - will acknowledge 80 years since the Greta Army Camp opened and seven decades since the formation of the Greta Migrant Camp.

The item was bestowed by Alex Kowalski, a local junior from the Greta Branxton Colts.

He played his entire club life with the Colts from 1995 to 2019 when he decided to retire from the sport in Hunter Valley Group 21.

The donated piece, however, is his Poland rugby league jumper.

It's a limited edition jersey, printed to celebrate the country's successful International Emerging Nations Tournament in 2018.

Kowalski represented Poland in all its games during the championship and even had the honour to captain the team against Hungary in the warm-up Test match.

At the end of the tournament, the unranked Poland had played four fixtures against Hong Kong, Japan, Vanuatu and Philippines - and went through undefeated, scoring 178 points and only conceding 26.

"A lot of the guys' families came through camps throughout Australia," Kowalski said.

"It was a real good eye-opener to hear the hardship their families went through.

"The team used these stories as motivational drive throughout the tournament, as their families made great sacrifices to come to Australia.''

Kowalski is a grandson of Polish migrants who passed through the Greta camp.

They ended up making Greta home, like many families around the townships.

"The jumper has a couple of local guys' names on it like Ethan Niszczot (tournament top pointscorer), Josh Day (trainer) and Troy Lowrey (trainer)," Poland's 23rd capped player said.

Kowalski also became the most capped player on Saturday, September 28, when he travelled to Lodz to play Poland's first-ever home international against Czech Republic.

The team won 34-18 with Kowalski snaring a double.

He arrived on the Monday morning in Warsaw before the game with some of his teammates and staff members before a two-hour drive to Lodz.

They then went straight to training that afternoon to meet the other team members.

Kowalski admitted he was "very busy" on the journey.

"I was waking up about 7am, walking over a kilometre to meet the others before heading to the day events, being one children's hospital, five schools visits and training every evening," he recalled.

"The earliest I got back to my apartment was 9pm.

"I cleared about 40km a day and had blisters on both feet by Thursday.

"But, it was well worth it, planting the seed and interest in rugby league over there.

"Just to see kids who had never heard of the game with the biggest smiles by the end of the clinics was great.

"Especially finding out children were staying during their lunchbreak to learn how to play and even staying back after school for an hour and half.

"It was a great feeling.

"This trip couldn't have happened without the likes of Lukasz Lucka and Shane Young."

Kowalski obtained individual sponsorship from HVL Group (Hunter Valley Lubrication) and some kind donations from the Greta Branxton rugby league community who donated their spot on the jersey to Red Nose.

The Silky Oak Festival will take place along Camp Road, Greta, on November 9 and 10.