AFTER overcoming news of his shock Great Britain call-up, Warrington forward Joe Philbin is now setting his sights on completing a unique hat-trick of trips to Papua New Guinea.

Few players get the chance to visit the Pacific Island nation where rugby league is the national sport but Philbin, 24, has already achieved the feat twice in the last two years, initially with Ireland for the 2017 World Cup and last autumn with England Knights.

It is an achievement envied by Philbin's Warrington team-mate and former England international Ben Westwood, who will bring his 20-year career to a close at the end of the season with one dream unfulfilled.

Philbin said: "Toby King says there are three certainties in life - death, taxes and Joe Philbin going to Papua New Guinea at the end of the year.

"Going there was the best experience of my life. I spoke to Benny Westwood, who has had a prestigious career but never got the chance to go there and would have loved to have done that.

"I got a taste of it at a young age, going there in the World Cup when I was 22, and I was made up then. The second time you appreciate it more.

"They are such happy people and they love their rugby league. Playing in front of those crowds is a special occasion."

Warrington Guardian:

Joe Philbin, far left, making a tackle for Ireland against Papua New Guinea in Port Moresby during the 2017 Rugby League World Cup. Below, fans watching the action at th game against Ireland. Pictures:

Warrington Guardian:

Philbin is in the form of his life - he scored the opening try in the Wolves' recent Challenge Cup final triumph at Wembley - but the call from national team manager Jamie Peacock still caught him out.

"I was in shock," he said. "I was just out with my missus and the in-laws having a coffee.

"At least I had someone to share it with and then I went around to my parents' house and they were made up for me.

"I'm going through a good patch at the minute but you never set out to achieve things like this.

"You just try to put your best foot forward for your club and, if recognition comes off the back of it, you roll with it."

Philbin's next personal target is to make coach Wayne Bennett's final 24-man squad for the tour to PNG and New Zealand but, more immediately, is focused on trying to help his club reach Old Trafford for the second successive season.

Their successful Cup run has been sandwiched by six straight Super League defeats which has seen them ousted from second spot by Wigan but the visit of Wakefield on Friday gives them a chance to get back on track.

"The top two is our aim because you get a home semi-final, but if we get in that top three we get a second bite of the cherry, so it's a big position," Philbin said.

"We just want to get back to some good form. We showed we can do it in the Cup but we've had a few off games in the league.

"We get back to it this week and we're confident we can put on a performance again."