BEFORE the COVID-19 pandemic brought the entire sporting world to a halt, one of Gunnedah's most decorated touch footballers added another honour to his growing credentials.
A career-best performance for the Northern Eagles at the National Touch League (NTL) helped Paul Brady claim selection in the NSW men's over-40 squad.
The selection comes after Brady helped guide the Eagles to a semi-final playoff at the annual tournament.
Brady said he was stoked to be selected in the illustrious squad, which would have played against Queensland in State of Origin action later this year.
"It's obviously pretty exciting to know you're among some of the best players for your age group in the state," Brady said.
"There was still some squad trials to come, but to get this far was really pleasing.
"It's the second time I have been picked for this squad and I can honestly say, I probably wasn't ready for it last time,
"However, this time around, I feel a lot more comfortable with playing at this level."
March's NTL campaign was Brady's fifth for the Eagles and by own admission, his best yet.
"We had a good side, handy players and a really good culture," Brady said.
"There was a few games, against quality opponents, who really challenged us and I feel as though, in years gone by, we would have lost those games.
"However, that really good culture saw us win those games, get to the semi-finals and really take it to some of those metropolitan NSW and Queensland teams."
Brady said the support of his family made the honour all the more special.
"Ultimately, I wouldn't be able to do it at all without the support of my family," he said.
"My wife Simone in particular has been amazing in her support of me and my sport.
"To be able to play at a representative level, especially at my age, is a bit time consuming, so to have that support is just fantastic."
Brady said he was unsure when the sport would be given the green light to return to action.
"To be honest, I wouldn't be surprised if it's postponed right until next year," he said.
"The communication we have received so far is that everything has been called off indefinitely.
"At the end of the day, the best thing for everyone to do is follow the guidelines and wait for things to return to normal."