Lee Imiolek believes the Championship’s ability to attract international teams to face their select XV points to the strength of the competition.
Yorkshire Carnegie prop Imiolek is one of five players from the region’s clubs chosen to represent the Championship in a one-off game against Canada at Worcester on Sunday, November 2.
Imiolek, Carnegie captain Ryan Burrows, Rotherham duo Tom Cruse and Michael Keating and Doncaster’s Dougie Flockhart are all part of a squad to face a team that will return to England next year to take part in the World Cup.
Imiolek, 24, earned his place with some stellar performances over the last season and a bit, and although the call took him by surprise, he believes it is testament to the Championship that they can attract such quality opposition.
“It definitely reflects well on the division,” said Imiolek.
“It’s always a stong squad they put out. When we played the All Blacks Maori a couple of years ago we did very well.
“The Championship is a strong competition, you see that from the amount of players that Premiership clubs take from this league.”
On getting the selection in the first place, Imiolek – who sits out his club’s British and Irish Cup tie at Ulster Ravens today – said: “I was very pleased and very surprised.
“I got an email at 10.15am and the team came out at 10.30am.
“First and foremost you want to play well for your club and anything that comes off the back of that is a bonus.
“I’m really pleased and excited about going out and playing.”
Yorkshire Carnegie coach Gary Mercer has named a stronger squad for today’s trip to Belfast than he did last week, with the likes of Rob Vickerman and Jon Clarke fleshing out a side predominently made up of academy players. Clarke said: “The B&I Cup is a fantastic opportunity to put things right.”