In Jai Field’s two years at the St George Illawarra Dragons he played 11 NRL games and with his speed and skill was suited perfectly to a fullback role but with Matt Dufty affirming the position, it wasn’t to be.
Earlier this year, Field made the switch to the Parramatta Eels, where he got the opportunity to play for an injured Mitchell Moses and it certainly wasn’t wasted on the 22-year-old who impressed with a try and a line-break, nine tackle-breaks, 118 run metres and 17 tackles, but at the back is where he’d rather be.
“I’m more of a one, where I can run and top up when you want to take the short side and even if you’re playing in a system where the six is a bit of a runner and has more of an out the back shape I’m happy to play not as much as a traditional seven,” Field told the Short Side podcast.
The Short Side with Jamie Soward | Episode 20: Jai Field
“(Dufty and I are) same sort of position, same style of player and I wanted to play one there the whole time but we went through a stage for three years where we didn’t have any halves that could play six.
“We already had a Nona and Nicholls that could play traditional seven and because we already had Duff as fullback I kept getting pushed back into the halves so I didn’t really get to play a lot of footy at fullback.”
The livewire has been thriving under the instruction of Eels head coach Brad Arthur, along with assistant David Kidwell as well as Blues legend Andrew Johns and is hopeful he can improve his dominance and defence even more under their tutelage as it was recently reported he was offered a one-year contract extension with the blue and gold.
“Feel like assertiveness for me now, obviously played a few games and there’s been times where I should be stepping up and dominating and calling the ball when I see an opportunity but I’ve let senior players dictate to me a little bit,” Field said.
“My defence is always something that has had a dark cloud over it, being a small body but since being at Parra I’ve worked really hard on it with BA and Kidwell and I’m still working on it now.
“I’ve only spent brief time with him (Andrew Johns) but the little bits and pieces you soak up everything and it’s been unreal.
“He’s just been really good with rule changes and the ball speeding up he’s like once it gets quick just stepping up in front of the middles and getting the ball at first receiver and running at the line.”