A letter from Fiji…


WHEN 23-year-old Jack Clark returned to play for the reformed Cockermouth side that fired back to life two years ago little did he think that he’d be on the other side of the world within the next 24 months writes Dave Parkinson.

The proud Cumbrian has had a whirlwind year since representing the county for the first time at Open Age level during the BARLA Three Counties Championship last November, reflecting: “I’d played County at 17s and 19s and was made up to get the call to play for the Open Age last year.”

The utility man, who can list loose forward, fullback, or centre as his positions, believes he is best suited to right centre, adding: “I feel that’s my position, although I will play wherever for the team.”

It would be fair to say, though, that Jack was one of the more nervous flyers of the group. He admits: “It’s a long way!

“The longest flight I’d ever done before this was about four hours. It’s the furthest away from home that I’ve ever been. Coming to the other side of the world, it still doesn’t feel real, really.

“We all had a good blow-out when we landed here in Fiji. The last couple of days have all been about the lads getting to know each other. We had a night in Brisbane, which was good and last night with the coaches was good. I think everyone is starting to gel.

“Hopefully, we can take that onto the pitch tomorrow ahead of our first game, and the next three as well.”

The BARLA Lions are in Fiji for a Tri-Series which will also involve Fiji Bati Residents and the Australian Affiliated States, and go into action on Thursday with a warm-up game against Fiji West.

The Lions will meet Fiji Bati Residents twice – on Saturday in a Tri-Series game, and the following Friday in a `friendly’ match which will close the trip.

The full schedule is:

Thursday 15 November. Fiji West v BARLA Lions; Fiji Bati Residents v Australian Affiliated States (both at Prince Charles Park, Nadi).

Saturday 17 November. Fiji Bati Residents v BARLA Lions (Lawaqa Park, Sigatoka).

Tuesday 20 November. Australian Affiliated States v BARLA Lions (Prince Charles Park, Nadi).

Friday 23 November. Fiji Bati Residents v BARLA Lions (at Prince Charles Park, Nadi).

The Lions’ squad is: Jamie Fields (captain), Andy Hullock (both Hunslet Club Parkside), Ryan Chalkley (Eastmoor Dragons), Jack Clark, Johnny Goulding (Cockermouth Titans), Dean Gamble, Ian Jackson (Featherstone Lions), Jordan Gibson (Haydock), Aidy Gleeson, Declan Sheridan (Rochdale Mayfield), Matthew Henson, Marcus O’Brien (Egremont Rangers), Kevin Hoban (Ellenborough Rangers), Tom Hopkins, Mark Tyson (Askam), Jack Howdle (Beverley), Jack Jones, Andy Lea (Thatto Heath Crusaders), Sam Jones (Barrow Island), Lee Postlethwaite (Millom), Craig Savage, Luke Tagg (Lock Lane), Reece Rushworth (York Acorn).