IT’S an off-season regime that would be the envy of the NRL’s big boppers, and it’s seen Dragons livewire Jai Field report for preseason 13 kilos heavier than last season.
The Shellharbour Sharks junior made his NRL debut in round one last season barely nudging 76 kilograms – and that came after stacking some beef on the 72-kilo frame he arrived with the previous October.
The former NYC star finished the season with three NRL games to his name and proved a genuine match-winner in Illawarra’s run to the Intrust Super Premiership finals.
Still, there were whispers that his sleight frame wasn’t up to the weekly rigours of the NRL. It saw the 20-year-old depart for the off-season with a simple instruction – eat and eat often.
“We’ve got great staff here and I’ve been on an eating program for 12 months now,” Field said.
“I started at 72 kilos last year and I was literally force-feeding myself. Brekky was the hardest, I’d wake up and it’d take me half an hour to get through it.
“I was eating four-egg omelettes with heaps of milk. I’d have a snack and then lots of bread and pasta for lunch and then another snack.
“I’d have dinner, steak or chicken, and then right before bed I’d have another snack – pasta or raisin bread.
“I’d have two big protein shakes during the day as well. You get used to the amount of food you’ve got to eat but it was struggle street early on.”
It’s a program that paid major dividends over the most recent off-season, seeing him return at a healthy 85 kilograms, though it has been a fair adjustment on the training paddock.
“Last year I was just gliding across the ground and doing it pretty easy,” he said.
“This year I’ve come back 13 kilos heavier than I was, it’s a fair bit in 12 months, so it’s a shock to system. We’ve planned to just plateau it out and try and play at 85 this year so my body can get used to playing at that weight.
“We’ll see where I go next year, if my body wants to naturally put on some more weight, I think that’s what happened a bit this time.
“I went away at 79 and over that six-seven week break I was eating the same amount of food but the weight just went on fairly easy which I’ve struggled to do in the past.”
Having cracked the top-grade last season, Field, who has also played with the Albion Park-Oak Flats Eagles, is hoping for a more regular taste of NRL action in 2018. With Josh Dugan having departed, he appears locked in a duel with fellow youngster Matt Dufty for first crack at the No.1 jumper.
“With Duges gone that’s a spot that’s obviously up for grabs,” he said.
“Duft finished the year there and went really well.
“I strung some games together at the back end of last year playing pretty well in Cup so hopefully I can compete for that spot.”