SIMON Ince will skipper his Great Britain team into a world cup campaign in a sport which he admits to originally hating.

The former Lymm, Ilkley, Bristol Harlequins and Preston Grasshoppers centre will lead an over 50s national team into new territory next month when they tackle the Touch Rugby World Cup in Malaysia.

Ince, 50, a fire safety specialist from Birchwood, and 15 teammates are currently honing preparations for six games in four days in 'vicious' Kuala Lumpur heat and for what they are considering to be a battle for third place.

"Playing in a World Cup for Great Britain is a dream come true, the pinnacle of any sport, and to be selected by the squad as captain is a real honour," said Ince, who accepted an invite to set up the team for the tournament once it was found most of the home nations would not be competing in the age group.

Warrington Guardian:

Simon Ince receiving his Great Britain shirt from the player coach Neil Perkins, a four-time world cup player for Wales 

Another dream came true when he represented his country - on this occasion England - at over 45s level in the European Championships in Jersey three years ago.

He came home with a gold medal but is being realistic about his new team's chances on the global stage despite the lengths the squad is going to in a serious bid for third spot.

"Australia and New Zealand sew up every category every year so we’ll probably only be playing for third," he admits.

"They’re just head and shoulder above everybody else. We’re quite a few years behind where they are in terms of development but we’ll catch up eventually."

Ince's boys will also have group matches against Ireland, Japan and Singapore before concluding with a play-off.

Training is ongoing for what will be a tough physical examination and Ince reveals he has lost more than one stone in weight since starting out on this journey.

All matches are six-a-side, 40 minutes long, played in four quarters on a pitch 70 metres long and 50 metres wide.

Play is fast, with the heat factor being an additional hurdle for Ince and the GB boys.

"It’s quite intense and there's rolling subs. You play hard for three minutes, you get off to rest, then you’re back on for another three minutes," said Ince, who usually plays on a 'wet and muddy park' for the Lymm touch rugby team and regional represenative outfit North West Blades over 45s.

"We are a competitive side, we do want to do our best. All the boys are training hard, we’ve got a physio on board, we’ve got exercise programmes, we’re training three or four times a week, doing strength and conditioning.

“We are trying to get as fit as we can. It’s no picnic.”

Warrington Guardian:

Simon Ince representing England 45s during the European Championships in Jersey three years ago

There will be 119 teams from 26 countries taking part across the age groups, highlighting the sport's popularity.

"Touch is a growing sport and very inclusive with single sex teams, mixed teams and age levels so everyone can play the sport," said Preston-born Ince, who moved to his wife's home town 12 years ago and finished his rugby union career at Lymm.

"I needed something to carry on with after rugby union and touch started.

"The RFU spent a lot of money before the World Cup when it was over here, trying to encourage growth in all formats of touch and rugby.

"We’ve got a good set-up now at Lymm. Mums, dads and kids train. We’ve got kids from 14 to adults of mid-50s playing, and it’s mixed sex as well.

"I hated it at first. At 6ft 2in and 15 to 16 stones, I was a kind of crash-ball centre in rugby union. But in this game I couldn’t smash players and when running at gaps somebody could just put a finger out to touch my elbow and that was me tackled.

"It took me a long time to get used to it."

* Help the squad's fundraising effort at