LEETON'S Tess Staines has found herself in top company after being selected in the NSW Country women's rugby league side.
The year 12 St Francis College student is among the youngest in the team, which also consists of players who have played at a national level.
After helping guide Riverina to victory at the first women's Country Rugby League championships last month, Tess will also be joined by Emma Hickey (Junee), Takilele Katoa (Griffith) and Gabrielle Suckling (Wagga Brothers) in the team.
The team which will be aiming to defend their national championships crown on the Gold Coast from May 30 to June 2.
It's a big opportunity for Tess, who will be playing alongside Jillaroos Isabelle Kelly, Kezie Apps, Bec Young, Ruan Sims, Hannah Southwell, Keeley Davis and Vanessa Foliaki.
"I actually couldn't believe it when I found it ... it was a bit of a shock," Tess said.
"I'm pretty sure I'm the youngest one in the team, so it's a massive opportunity."
The championships on the Gold Coast will be hard core with the top players from across the country taking part.
Tess has always had a love of all things rugby league, but also sport in general.
She is consistently among the best every week when playing league tag for Yanco-Wamoon, but she has also received several Group 20 accolades throughout her young career.
Since being given the opportunity to play rugby league with the Riverina Bulls, Tess said it was taking another step forward to what she hopes will be a professional career in the near future.
"I love playing rugby league ... to be honest it's been a bit hard to step back into playing league tag," she said.
"It's not as physical and that's what I love most about playing league.
"I love everything about it. I'm really grateful for this opportunity."
Tess also has some more exciting rugby league news about herself up her sleeve, but she's not able to announce it quite yet.
For now, she's staying focused on performing well for both her Hawks and NSW Country Women team mates.
Tess will head to Sydney on May 25 for a final training run with the side.
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