SHELLHARBOUR'S Jai Field, a little over a year ago, had his eyes set on playing rugby league professionally overseas.
However, due to an issue with the English Super League's foreign player quota and the coronavirus pandemic, that dream fell through for the 23-year-old.
"I was in talks with Leeds at the end of last year but it kept getting pushed back due to Papua New Guinean passport issues with Rhyse Martin," Field said.
"It got to a point where I didn't know what was happening next for me."
It was all doom and gloom for the Group Seven product though, as he signed a train-and trial-deal with Parramatta, before being added to their top-30.
His hard work paid dividends, and he made six appearances for the Eels in 2020 which included three tries.
"Footy is a funny old game," he said.
"Not much can be happening for you and in a flash, you're running onto the field for an NRL game.
"I thoroughly enjoyed my time at Parramatta and thought I developed a lot, especially on the defensive end thanks to the efforts of both Brad Arthur and David Kidwell - it's probably the best I've ever defended.
"Considering where I was in February, I'm very pleased how the season went for me."
Following the blue and golds elimination from the 2020 NRL premiership race, the club confirmed the departure of 11 players, including Field - with the latter's overseas dream finally being released.
With 17 NRL games under his belt (11 previous with the Dragons), the playmaker penned a two-year-deal with the Wigan Warriors in the English Super League.
"The Wigan deal all happened really quickly," the former NSW under 20s player said.
"We had a deal on the table with Leeds again and I was getting ready to sign it before Wigan swooped in late with an offer I couldn't refuse.
"My manager [David Riolo] and I believe there's a greater opportunity for me at Wigan, not to mention a couple of familiar faces in Jackson Hastings and Bevan French - I've previously played with both in rugby league and touch."
The Warilla High School alumnus is looking forward to challenging himself at a big club like the Wigan Warriors, which currently sits in second on the English Super League ladder.
"Wigan is a very prestigious club in rugby league circles and I feel honoured to get the chance to pull on their jersey," Field, who will head to the United Kingdom in the new year, said.
"They're always in the mix for silverware and I can't wait to try and help them win more over the next couple of seasons."
When Field's deal runs out, he will be 25, at an age when he hopes he can still come back and play in Australia.
"After my time in England, I'd love to come back and try my hand at the NRL again," he said.
"I'll only be 25 and I'm confident the two years of playing week in, week out competitive footy will take my game to the next level.
"However, I'll worry about that then and am just concentrating on playing solid footy for Wigan - I'm really excited to get over there and start working."
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