THE areas best young rugby league players are preparing to tackle the most talented players and teams on offer from other hotbeds of rugby.

The Wigan and Leigh Service Area' four squads (U12s through to U15s) have been selected and kicked off with games against with Warrington last weekend.

The squads were jointly selected by representatives from Wigan Warriors and Leigh Centurions, who admit that this year's selection was the hardest they've ever had to do.

Rugby Football League (RFL) performance analysts will watch this series of games to choose the players for the Regional Camp at U13s, 14s and 15s levels.

Ben Lazenby, Service Area Co-ordinator for Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust, said: "Looking at the squads I believe that the selectors have got it spot on this year, every name on the team sheet has performed well already and I think they will continue to do the area justice. If anyone wanted proof that our game is producing talented youngsters they should have watched these trial matches."In 2006, the Wigan and Leigh Service Area' produced 27 players good enough to progress to the Regional Camp. Ben believes that this year even more players will progress: "We are proud of every player that performs for Wigan and Leigh, but seeing players progress to the next stage is very special. I believe that looking at the talent we have selected this year, we will see an increase in players progressing to the Regional Camp and beyond."

Rugby League service areas' are present in traditional rugby league playing areas such as St Helens and Leeds and aim to develop rugby league sport through youth development programmes.

The Wigan and Leigh Service Area was one of the first in the country to take the step to employ a full time Service Area Co-ordinator. Ben Lazenby's post is funded through a unique partnership between the RFL and Wigan Leisure and Culture Trust; he works as part of the Trust's Sports Development Unit.

Future fixtures are: May 19, U14 & 15 v Halton at Leigh Miners Rangers; June 2, U14 & 15 v St Helens at Ince Rose Bridge; June 9, U12 & 13 v Oldham at Ince Rose Bridge and June 16, U12 & 13 v Leeds at Leigh East.