After an off-season spent training by himself in a park at Shellharbour, former St George Illawarra speedster Jai Field is on the verge of a fulltime deal with Parramatta.
Field signed a six-week train and trial contract with the Eels just over a week ago but Parramatta coach Brad Arthur indicated he was keen for the versatile back to extend his deal for the remainder of the season.
“He just needs to train well,” Arthur said ahead of Saturday’s EISS Super Saphire Trial Tribute match against Penrith in Bega.
“Any of these young blokes that we bring in to give an opportunity, always at the end of the day we want to give them the contract.
“We just have to be comfortable that they are the right fit for our club, which he has shown already that he is going to be, and that they are willing to work hard and train hard.
“It is just going to take time for him. I feel like we have given him an opportunity and he just needs to take that. I am sure that he will. He can add a bit of pace to our squad.”
Panthers v Eels - EISS Super Sapphire Trial
Field had been poised to take up a two-year deal with Leeds when the opportunity at Parramatta arose.
Until then he had been training on his own.
“I am pretty happy to be back training with a team,” he said.
“I was just training by myself, just in the gym and doing different field sessions every day down in Shellharbour, where I am from.
“I had fitness sessions I had done before that I got from the Dragons so I was just doing that. I’m hoping I can stay at Parramatta, they did well last year and obviously they would want to go better this year.”
The 22-year-old played 30 minutes in last weekend’s trial against Wests Tigers but may not get as much time on Saturday night as Arthur is using the match to finalise preparations and settle on his bench for Round 1.
Field said the visit to the fire ravaged South Coast had been an eye-opener for most of the Eels squad and they wanted to put in a good performance on Saturday for the local community.
“I have got family friends who live down here [Merimbula] and fortunately they didn’t get hit too bad by their fires but on Christmas day it was like night time at 10.30am,” he said.
“Obviously they have had a bit of rain now but we were out on a farm and they just said ‘picture that a month ago, it was just all black’.
“We were at Quaama [Primary] School and a few of the teachers gave us a run down about what happened in that town. Obviously it hit the farmers pretty bad and just hearing about some of the experiences they have been through it is pretty eye-opening.
“It was just devastating what happened here but the firefighters and the community have been doing such a good job rebuilding everything. Footy obviously means a lot to the community down here so we love to give back.”