Purdy and McAlister selected for Ireland ahead of league test

Portadown's John Purdy on show at Chambers Park for North Elks in the rugby league international challenge match. Pic by Matthew Wickham.
Portadown's John Purdy on show at Chambers Park for North Elks in the rugby league international challenge match. Pic by Matthew Wickham.
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Two players with Portadown connections have been selected for international duty against Serbia.

The Rugby League Ireland panel will feature John Purdy and Clarke McAlister from Portadown Pumas.

Purdy also represents the town in rugby union, with McAlister part of the Banbridge panel at club level.

Both featured for Northern Ireland Elks in the State of Origin fixture at Chambers Park, with a call-up to face Serbia next month off the back of promising performances.

“It is a great honour for John and the club,” said Portadown club coach Richard Hedley. “The rugby league games can only have helped to keep the players’ fitness levels up during the domestic club break.”

Other players with links to the area also featured at Chambers Park against Republic of Ireland Eagles.

The under 19s’ Northern Ireland panel included Rob Ciack and Jamie Dickson from the town, plus Portadown Pumas’ Jason Gribben.

The Pumas’ Adam Docherty stepped out at senior level against Republic of Ireland alongside a former town club representative in Wayne Kelly.

Preparations for the rugby union club programme featured warm-up games against Ballymoney, Rainey Old Boys and Randalstown.

RJ Greenlee, Garth Reid, Chris Cousens, Mal Allister, Aaron Morton, Diarmaid O’Kane, James Carlton, Mark Muldrew, Darren Thompson, Niall Davison, Michael Busby and Brian Forstelle proved key players across the friendly fixtures.