FORMER Kendal schoolboy Mark Wilson is living the dream – named as England’s player-of-the-series in last autumn’s Quilter international series.

But the big number eight forward, who now plies his trade for Newcastle Falcons and lives in the North East, has never forgotten his roots and the club which gave him his first chance in the game.

And he wants to continue to make his home town proud after his successful debut in an England shirt, supposedly filling in for the injured Saracen’s player Billy Vunipola.

With a World Cup year just around the corner, he is hungry for more international glory

As a youngster, Mark had only really played football until he went to Kirkbie Kendal school, where the oval ball game dominated the sports agenda

But he quickly began to relish getting stuck in as a member of the pack in the contact sport – breaking into the school team and joining a youth team in Penrith.

Then, at 17 years-old and already a county colts player, Wilson returned to his home turf to play for Kendal Rugby Club’s first team for two seasons – a time when he says he always had one eye on the Newcastle Falcons, the closest Premiership rugby team to his home.

“The Falcons were my biggest and only goal at the time, but to be able to play for them seemed like a far-fetched dream,” he said

“I was ambitious to go further in the game and I just thought it would be amazing – a huge thing even – if I could be a professional for them.”

But dreams can come true if you work hard enough, and it wasn’t long before Wilson grabbed a trial at Newcastle and proved he was good enough to make the grade.

And that was only the start of the rapid rise of the likeable Kendalian – the ultimate ambition of wearing the red rose of England on his shirt at Twickenham has now also been ticked off his ‘must-do’ list.

“The highlight of the internationals was probably my first game against South Africa” he said.“My family was there and that made the whole day that much more special. In time I will be able to reflect back on that day with good memories.”

Wilson was also voted by the rugby fans as England’s man of the series.

The Falcon’s player who started all four tests against South Africa, New Zealand, Japan and Australia won the vote by 54 per cent with fly-half Owen Farrell following behind on 26 per cent.

“I am truly humbled to have received the award, it is truly a great honour,” said Wilson “It’s a put a smile on my face knowing that everyone at home is rooting for me. I want to keep making them proud.”

With the World Cup in the back of his mind and high hopes to represent England in this years Six Nations Wilson said these ambitions won’t distance himself from playing for the team he has always wanted to represent since he was a teenager.

“Every professional player has their eye on the World Cup but I can’t focus too much on that now,” he said “The Internationals has been incredible and it has given me a lot to think about but I also need to kick on. I need to be there for the Falcons and play to the best of my ability in the Heineken Champions Cup,” he said.

Even though he’s made his home in the north east with his wife and two children Wilson said he still keeps tabs on Kendal Rugby.

“At club level everything is is a bit different, you’re playing with people who are much younger who are still learning the rules of the game and you’re playing with those who are older, every individual is at a different stage,” he said “but it also moulds you as a team player and as a person, it certainly helped me prepare for my life in the North East.”