James Laithwaite and Anthony Walker, both 21, studied BTEC Sport at Priestley College and played together for the college rugby team.
Now they are set to clash in the Super League after renewing their contracts with Wolves and Saints and making their debuts for the clubs.
“We’re good mates, but it will get serious when we play against one another for the first time in the Super League,” said James, from Penketh.
It’s a match Anthony will be looking forward to. For although he was a Wolves fan growing up in Newton, there will be no divided loyalties when the clubs clash.
“It’s the match I really want to win,” said Anthony, a former Woolston High School pupil. “I always wanted to play for Wolves, but that changed when I put the Saints shirt on for the first time.”
Despite being fiercely competitive the friendship that started at Priestley College remains intact.
They left with triple distinctions and their friendly rivalry has helped push them on to greater things.
“James was chosen for England under 18s and that just spurred me on to want to do the best I possibly could,” said Anthony.
James, an ex-Penketh High School pupil, plays in the back row for Warrington while Anthony, a former swimming champion, is a prop for St Helens.
They have already clashed in the reserve league so there are no secrets when they play, which can help in pre-match tactical talks.
“I obviously know Anthony well, but in our team talks we tend to focus on opponents’ strengths more than their weaknesses,” said James.
Dani Toward, who taught James and Anthony, said it was inspiring for the college’s current crop of players – who recently won the North West Conference – to see former students reaching such heights in their sport.
“James and Anthony prove you can be competitive on the pitch while being friends off it and that is a great example to set,” she said.
“It is a great honour for the college to have two former students doing so well and they are a credit to Priestley.”