AN international rugby star returned to his roots to encourage more volunteers to get involved in the sport.

Geoff Parling led a training session for Stockton Rugby Club’s under-13 and under-14 teams when he paired up with the man who helped inspire his fledgling career, Nick Moore.

The England, British and Irish Lions, and Leicester Tigers player even hung around to watch the Six Nations clash between England and Italy in the clubhouse.

The club is now short of volunteer coaches, particularly for the junior teams, so Parling’s visit as part of sporting charity Join In’s campaign was his way of paying the club back for its support in the early days of his career.

He said: “It’s all about getting involved in your local community. Any sport, any grass roots sport needs volunteers and people to help out. When I was a junior at Stockton, the parents and coaches used to turn up and ferry everyone around.

“It’s great to feel part of something – and let people enjoy themselves.

Even as a junior we had organised tours at the end of the season, although maybe they were more for the coaches and parents on a jolly as much as anything!

“I’m lucky enough to play for England, but I will never forget where it all started. There’s lots of ways to get involved – visit the website or just turn up at your local club or organisation and see what can be done.

“It’s not just coaches, it’s all sorts of people with all sorts of ideas and skills we all need.

“It’s been great coming back to the club and seeing so many familiar faces.

“I really enjoyed the coaching session with the juniors and I hope they all got something out of it and if that can inspire one or two people to get involved and help the club out then all the better.”