THERE was a time when Super League and the international scene was graced by the presence of Stuart Fielden.
A rampaging prop with the passion and determination to match, Fielden began his career with the Bradford Bulls in 1998.
There, he spent nine seasons, playing 224 games and winning every domestic honour in sight. From there, Fielden joined the Wigan Warriors where he registered another 139 appearances.
Being such a renowned forward both domestically and internationally – indeed, the prop earned ten England caps and 25 Great Britain call-ups – it was a surprise that Fielden never tried his hand in the NRL.
Now, he has revealed why that never materialised.
“I was always contracted so a Super League move never really happened, but I never really wanted to leave Bradford,” Fielden told League Express. “I’d been there for ten years but we had won everything. We had 100% success in World club Challenges with three from three but I wanted a fresh challenge.
“The Aussie one was always the likeliest move especially in 2006 after the Aussie tests there. Logistically it wasn’t done in the earlier days because the dollar was weaker against the pound and the only team that could realistically afford me was Wigan.
“We still had a lot of players coming over for the money. Jamie Lyon, Adrian Morley came back, Andrew Johns came over briefly. Since then, with sterling losing strength and their TV deal going through the roof, more guys are wanting to go over there.”
Fielden went on to explain how a move to one NRL club almost came about mid-2000s before a second opportunity to go to Australia was thwarted by injury in 2011.
“There was a possible route with Sydney in 2004 or 2005 where we speaking with top guys at the Rosters. That wasn’t out of the realms of possibility but Nobby (Brian Noble – the Bradford coach at the time) was saying he wanted someone like-for-like and considering that point I’d be in the world’s Dream Team four years in a row, it was always going to be an ask.
“Then more money started being brought into the NRL with the salary cap going up so in about 2011 me and Frank Endacott – my agent at the time – we weren’t far off agreeing terms with the Canterbury Bulldogs.
“But when that move was getting closer, I went in the gym and ruptured my pec. It’s usually quite hard to reattach my pec to your arm, fortunately though it wasn’t that bad.
“It was six months which is a long time but considering how long the recovery usually lasts, it is probably the best recovery I have had.”