FORMER Bathurst Panther Matt Woolmington is a big fan of two things: Being able to serve his country and playing rugby league.
His latest achievement celebrates both of those things.
Woolmington was recently named in the Australian Defence Force's representative rugby league squad to tour the Pacific islands later this year and play in the 2021 Festival of World Cups in England.
The former Panthers half, now based in Darwin, earned his spot in the Australian squad courtesy of a strong performance for the Army in trials against the Navy and Air Force earlier this month.
Woolmington said it was a pleasant surprise to earn selection.
"It's my first time in the team. We had an inter-service competition against Air Force and Navy and they did the selections from those three teams," he said.
"I put my best foot forward for that. I wasn't confident when they were announcing the team but I ended up getting a spot."
The ADF team had been scheduled to play against New Zealand in an ANZAC Day clash but the coronavirus pandemic has led to its cancellation.
The tour of the Pacific later in the year is still going ahead at this stage, depending on the virus situation.
In the lead up to that tour Woolmington will continue to ply his trade for the Nightcliff Dragons when football gets back underway.
Woolmington, a rifleman in the Australian Army, served on a five month tour of Iraq at the start of 2018.
The former Panthers has still been able to enjoy a strong share of rugby league action in between his work.
"Whenever I'm not away I'm able to play for them, which is usually around three quarters of the season," he said.
"I still get plenty of training in at work as well."
Woolmington has representative experience with the Army side in the past, having represented them at tri-nations level.
Woolmington was a key part of the Panthers squad during their rebuilding stage in the early to mid 2010s, and the club still holds a special place in his heart.
"I still keep in contact with a lot of my mates who are down there," he said.
"My dad was on the committee as well and is still involved there."