VIKINGS prop forward Ted Chapelhow has expressed his delight at being called up to the England Academy squad to face the Australians at Leigh Sports Village in December.

Chapelhow’s call up makes him the first Widnes Vikings Academy player to make the cut at England level in the Super League era.

The Runcorn based forward recently signed a full time contract at the Vikings which has seen him propelled to the First Team squad.

The Ex-West Bank junior says the call from England came as a shock to him, despite him and his coaches at the Vikings setting international honours as a development target.

“It was unexpected as I just got asked to train with the England Academy so the coaches could see how I got on,” he said.

“I had one full session on the field and then I got asked to do some testing with the rest of the squad. Then the phone call came and it was unexpected and I was a bit overwhelmed as well but this is something I have been working towards.

“I sat down with Shane Eccles and Phil Finney at the start of last season and England was a goal that was in the back of my mind. They believed I was good enough and the rest was down to me in my performances. They both put my name forward and Shane had sent some videos to the coaching team and the call up came. I always wanted to do it but I never thought I’d actually make it.

“It’s a great achievement for myself and I’m really made up. Shane and Phil have both congratulated me and they’ve said to me ‘I told you you could do it’! This is the biggest achievement of my career, other than signing a First Team contract with Widnes.”

Shane Eccles, Under 19’s Coach and Development Manager, said: “This is a great achievement for Ted and a testament to the effort and work he has put during his time at the Club.

“Ted has been performing well in the under 19s and is the kind of player who wants to learn and is constantly reviewing his performance and looking for areas he can improve. Ted has been rewarded with his efforts by stepping up and training with the First Team squad and this international call up is also recognition for the improvements he has made in his game. Hopefully Ted can impress during the camp and get the opportunity to play at international level.”

Chapelhow heads into camp in November ahead of the two games series with the Aussies in December and the prop says there’s no better way of preparing for those games than being in the Vikings’ First Team environment.

“The First Team training is a really big step up,” Chapelhow said.

“I’m in at 8.30am with Jon Clarke (Head of Strength and Conditioning) every morning doing gym work and working through the new programmes and they’ve been fantastic. It’s much better than we’ve had before and the lads are really feeling it. We are being pushed to our limits now, after easing back in, and that’s what will make us fitter and stronger. To be honest it’s an achievement just to be in the gym with the First Team and working alongside them.”

Chapelhow’s target after his England exploits will then be working his way into Denis Betts’ Super League side.

“Once England is done, it’s about cementing your place in the First Team and becoming established,” he said.

“I want to get to know the lads better as I want to be here playing alongside them for the next seven eight years. I’m getting so much knowledge from the experience of being around these lads.

“Denis has spoken to me about what he wants from me and the standards he expects and he said he wants me up to speed by the time everyone is back in full training to give myself the best chance of a First Team spot.”