RAFIK Tahraoui revealed he has been playing handball leading up to the crucial European Championships qualifiers with a broken hand.

The 23-year-old from Old Hall and his Great Britain teammates face Italy and Greece this week in Group B.

“I broke my shooting hand in two places through falling and landing on it in a league game for my club team Salford five weeks ago,” said Tahraoui, a former Warrington Water Polo Club player who reached Great Britain under 21s level in the pool.

“I was recommended a cast for six weeks, but chose not to and to continue playing with the broken hand otherwise I wouldn't have been selected for these games had I been sat out and not playing.

“It's been very painful to play with but I have managed to play through it and have some of, if not my best, performances of the season over the five weeks, including a cup quarter final victory against rivals London Great Dane.

“Hopefully, I will be able to perform like that in these internationals in order to help Great Britain qualify through this group.”

Tahraoui, a former Penketh High School pupil and Priestley College student who has switched from left back to a frontline player, is in the 16-man GB squad for the matches against Italy in Motherwell today, Thursday, and against Greece at Crystal Palace, London, on Sunday.

Only the winners of this emerging nations’ group will go through to the knockout stage.