THE Armidale School's Joe Baker and Edward Bell took on some of the best young schoolboy rugby players in the state this week as they pulled on a jersey for a combined AAGPS rep team in Sydney.
The boys were named in the GPS blue and white (third grade) squad on 22 June following TAS' 33-0 win over The King's School's thirds and were two of 50 players from the first XVs of the nine GPS schools selected for the four representative teams.
Baker, from Narrabri and Bell, from Scone, spent the week training and playing two fixtures culminating in a 40-12 win over NSW JRU under-18 second side at St Joseph's College Hunters Hill on Thursday.
Running on as fullback, Baker played the whole fixture and scored one of six tries for GPS white.
Bell took to the paddock in the second half, impressing as halfback in a fast and skilful clash. "It was a much faster pace than we've been playing at school.
Everyone across the park has great ball skills, can pass on either side and land the ball into the chest of their teammate.
"I did a lot of running as halfback to get to every ruck," Bell said.
Baker, who had hurt his ankle in the TAS game against King's, said he wasn't going to let that get in the way of "the opportunity of a lifetime".
"It was a bit better on Tuesday when white played blue, but I just strapped it up on Thursday and had painkillers - I wasn't going to miss out on playing if I could help it," he said.
The boys said it was an incredible opportunity to be part of a team largely made up of students that had played with and against each other for some years.
"It was a little harder for Belly and I at first as a lot of the players knew some of the other boys, but they were all very welcoming and we all gelled very well on and off the field," Baker said.
"Just playing at that higher representative level was a wonderful experience and gave us both more confidence, picking up little things from the coaches and other players that will be really good for the rest of the season."
Bell said the boys were grateful to The Scots College for putting them up for the week.
"They looked after us really well and made us welcome," he said.
The boys will return to the field for TAS against Sydney Boys' High in round five of the GPS Third Grade competition at TAS on July 27.