DARLINGTON Mowden Park skipper Cameron Mitchell hopes to have plenty of opportunity to show his paces when he lines up for the England Counties XV against the Ireland Clubs XV at The Northern Echo Arena this evening (7.30).

The Northumbria University student was selected on the wing rather than his usual position of centre when he won his first Counties XV cap in the one-point defeat by France Federale XV in Nevers last month.

“I’m just happy to play,” he said.

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“When we first met the coaches stated their ambition was to play exciting and positive rugby and I have no doubt that is what we will do.

“I started as a scrum half at Yarm School and I’ve also played a bit on the wing, so I really don’t mind where I play.

“It’s a massive honour to be involved.

The game in Nevers was probably the best experience of my life, but playing at my home ground in front of family, friends and a big crowd is going to be even better.”

Mowden team-mate Pierce Phillips, a second row forward from Great Ayton, is also in the squad, along Blaydon forwards Robbie Kalbraier, Chris Wearmouth and Gavin Jones.

More than 1,500 tickets have been sold in advance and Mitchell added: “There was a big crowd at Nevers but this is likely to be the biggest I’ve played in front of.

“Running out of the tunnel at the Arena is always a great feeling and the support we’ve had for Mowden games this season has been absolutely brilliant. It’s massively appreciated.”

Mitchell, who finished his schooling at Sedbergh and began his club career with Darlington, will be 22 next month and said: “It was a shock to be asked to captain Mowden at such a young age.

“I agreed straightaway – it’s a massive honour. It’s a young team and there’s a great spirit because everyone has bought into what we’re trying to do as a club.

“It’s a big ambition to get into National One and stay there, but with all the facilities and the way the club is set up now I think we could go even higher.

“I played for the North Under 16s but I thought the chance to represent an England team had gone, so to do it on my home ground is going to be a great honour”

There will be plenty of familiar faces to support Mitchell with friends from university, where he is studying estate management, and family from North Yorkshire in the crowd.