Horden and Durham rugby player Richie Thirkell ready for biggest day

ON THE CHARGE: Richie Thirkell
ON THE CHARGE: Richie Thirkell

RICHIE Thirkell says running out at Twickenham will be a “dream come true”.

The powerful Horden forward will wear the number two shirt for Durham in the County Championship Second Cup final against Kent on Sunday.

Thirkell has already enjoyed a good career, being a regular for Durham over the last half a dozen seasons as well as enjoying success with hometown team Horden and Westoe in the National League.

The hooker has even enjoyed a short stint at Newcastle Falcons, where he made three apperances for the Premier League outfit’s Development team.

This season has been one of his best – he’s been a key figure in Horden’s Durham Northumberland Division One title triumph and now he’s helped Durham reach the home of rugby for the first time since 1994.

“It will be the first time I’ve played at Twickenham,” he told SportMail. “It’s a dream come true to play at rugby’s HQ.

“I’m over the moon to play for Durham anyway but to go to Twickenham is a really great achievement.

“I’ve been involved now for the last six or seven years and this is the greatest moment.

“I’ve always enjoyed my rugby, for Horden and also for Westoe in the National League.

“I got to play three games for the Falcons in the Development League which was brilliant – I played at Leicester who had Billy Twelvetrees playing in thelr side and a few other stars.

“To play in front of a few thousand fans at Leicester was fabulous, but to run out at Twickenham will top everything.”

Thirkell will be joined in the Durham side by fellow Horden star Paul Malcolm and his former Welfare Park team-mate, Owen Bennett, who now plays for West Hartlepool.

All three have played during Durham’s 100 per cent run in the competition – Malcolm and Bennett enjoying their debut county seasons.

Thirkell is an old hand at the county game now and he rates this Durham team as the best he’s played in.

“This is the highest standard I’ve known,” said the 33-year-old. “We’ve gelled really well and are playing good rugby.”