TOUCH OF CLASS: Footy veterans step up for Australia
TOUCH FOOTBALL: Across a lifetime of sport, in both rugby league and touch football, Grafton's Steve Llewellyn never chased the spotlight.
Just content with enjoying his sport, Llewellyn was never one to make representative sides or the back pages.
But at 67 years old, that is all about to change.
Llewellyn will join close friend and former Sydney Roosters touch football representative Peter Lake as the Clarence Valley pair pull on the green and gold of Australia in New Zealand this weekend.
Llewellyn will play in the Australian over-60 side in the NTRA Trans-Tasman Challenge, while Lake will play in the over-55 side.
"I have never played in representative teams all my life, I have just been happy playing on the fields in Grafton,” Llewellyn said of his selection.
"I wasn't really expecting it, but it is a bit of a beat-up that I am playing for Australia. I accept that I will pull on the green and gold, but at 67 there aren't many of us, and when you go overseas there is a heck of a lot less.
"There is a sense of honour, I wouldn't say I get over the top about it, but it is an honour.”
It was an opportunity that had not even factored for the touch footballer six months ago before Lake 'conned' him into playing at the Masters State of Origin series in Coffs Harbour back in June.
In a moment of irony though, it was the ring-in Llewellyn who had the last laugh over his mate.
"I got him a gig with the NSW side and then they beat us,” Lake said. "It was the first time the NSW guys had beaten Queensland in five years. I couldn't believe it.”
Lake has been playing touch football at a competitive level for more than four decades, travelling up to Caboolture weekly for games. He also spent time representing the Roosters and Northern Eagles in the State Cup.
But it was at the social competition in Grafton, which features some of the great names of Clarence sport including Barry Livermore and Herbie Duroux, that Lake found his partner in crime.
"It was really good to get him a gig with NSW, but to earn selection for Australia together is a real thrill,” he said.
"The selection criteria for state level is basically if you can fog up a mirror you get a run, but it is very different for the Australian side. It is really competitive to earn a place in that line-up.”
The pair will play New Zealand in a tri-series which kicks off this weekend in Auckland. It is expected to be a close series after the last time the two nations collided in Cronulla in 2016 ended in a draw.
While he admitted it was a strange feeling to make his international debut at 67, Llewellyn said it was testament to why people should stay in sport.
"My knees haven't given up and my hips haven't given up, so I have just kept going,” he said. "I love football, I always have and I am glad I have found a way to keep that alive.”
Lake mirrored his mate's sentiments.
"You are a long time dead after all,” he said.