YOUNG Melrose rugby players selected for the trip of a lifetime look likely to have their plans put on hold.

Ruairidh Lindsay, Ben Lynch and Roly Brett, who play for Melrose under-18s, are due to fly to New Zealand at the end of May for a three-month stint with Marist St Pats in Wellington.

But the outbreak of coronavirus has cast doubts over the teenagers’ preparations.

Co-director of Melrose rugby club Rob Moffat said: “The really annoying thing is, with the coronavirus, everything gets cancelled. But these guys will get the opportunity to go again.”

Moffat told the Border Telegraph that the trip is intended to be the first of an annual arrangement whereby two players are sent out to hone their craft in New Zealand.

It was organised after the club secured a donation from a media-shy benefactor, Moffat revealed.

He said: “We thought about this for a little while but we had someone who was willing to put in some cash but wanted to keep it quiet.

“I’ve thought about this for two or three years now. New Zealand tends to be the best place for people to go to play. It’s just a different culture, different from here and for me it’s a whole life experience as well.

“We thought, ‘We’ve got the finances, we can get this up and running’, and it will be an annual event.”

Moffat told us the lucky players will develop in Wellington under the guidance of Zak Feaunati, the ex-Bath and Melrose no.8, who portrayed Jonah Lomu in the 2009 film Invictus.

Ben, 17, of Melrose, described his delight upon discovering he had been chosen to take part in the programme.

He said: “It was a bit of a buzz, a bit surreal. When I got home I couldn’t really think of anything else.”

And the scrum half said he is “not too bothered” about the prospect of the adventure being postponed, adding: “I know I still have the opportunity to do it next year so for me it’s not the end of the world - I’m only 17.”

Ruairidh, also 17, told us the uncertainty was “a bit upsetting” but the no.8 expressed enthusiasm for taking part in the trip when it eventually happens.

Moffat, a former Edinburgh coach, went on to outline the criteria for selection.

He said: “We’re looking at boys who are, if you ask the players themselves to choose a player, they would be right up there.

“They’re players that are consistently good and consistently play at a good level and show a good attitude at training and tick all those boxes.

“But it’s a difficult one because ideally I’d want to send 30 boys.”