WIGAN full-back Matty Bowen is visiting Serbia this weekend to promote the country’s schools rugby league programme.
The initiative - launched this year - is part-funded by the Australian Embassy in Belgrade.
Former Kangaroos international Bowen will assist in a youth tournament tomorrow at the FK Zemun stadium (14.00 GMT).
SRLF vice president Nebojša Sretenović said. “This is a huge honour for Serbia Rugby League to welcome such a wonderful player and one of the most respected men in the sport, on and off the field.
“His playing record at club and representative level is among the best and he is very active in the Australian Government’s campaign ‘Close the Gap’, which aims to increase the life of the Australia indigenous people.
“Matt will be arriving with his wife and two children and will have a full schedule during this historic visit.
“As one of the initiators of it, the Australian Ambassador in Serbia, Julia Feeney, will be the main host for the Bowen family. It is scheduled for Matt to visit the headquarters of SRLF in Belgrade, he will have a couple of TV appearances, but the main event is the youth tournament.”
Bowen has been left out of the Wigan team for the past six weeks, with coach Shaun Wane opting instead for Ryan Hampshire in the full-back role.
But Wane this week praised the veteran for his attitude in training.
“Rocky (Hampshire) made a couple of errors against Warrington, but Matty was with him yesterday, working on them,” said Wane on Tuesday.
“I’ve not said a word to him, I’ve not asked him to do it, and yet every day Matty has worked with Rocky, like a coach.
“And that tells you everything about the bloke – he’s one of the best.
“He’s been one of the world’s best full-backs the last decade and it’s not good for him being out of the team at the moment.
“But he’s nut sulked, he’s trained hard and he understands the situation I’m in.
“I’ve absolutely so much more respect for him – and I already thought the world of him.”