By SEB STERNIK
Castleford Tigers and England forward Grace Field has admitted that the 2019 tour of Papua New Guinea inspired her on a personal level and gave her a fresh perspective on life.
The player made her England debut eight months ago during the country’s two-match Test series against PNG.
Field was in the starting line-up for the first of those two games which took place in Goroka – a town of around 19,000 people situated 5,000ft above sea level.
“Unless you were there, I can’t ever capture what the moment was,” recalls Field.
“We played inside a cage and there were bodies pressed up against the cage. There were people sat in trees, the stands were full. It was absolute madness, the noise they made.
“They weren’t there to support a team, they were there to support Rugby League. I think that was brilliant because if we as a team did something well, they cheered us on. If someone made a big hit or if someone scored, the whole crowd cheered. And it was the same for PNG. The entire crowd went up. They were there to watch a good game of Rugby League.”
Around 7,000 people attended the series opener which is more than a third of the town’s population. However, Field believes this game was a lot more than just 80 minutes of rugby.
She said: “Obviously, what it did for the area, it showed them that women are capable and equal to their male counterparts and they have the opportunity to provide the same quality and entertainment.
“We were spoken to before the match and one of the people speaking mentioned that what we were doing was creating a legacy for young girls in PNG, who would take this opportunity and it would inspire future generations.
“For me personally, that’s more important than anything else; to make sure that people are inspired by what we’re doing. I’m happy to do all the hard work now for future generations to have an easier ride and get the success and what they deserve.”
Field also recalls how PNG’s poverty made her think about life. She said: “Everywhere you went, there were few people with shoes but there was always a rugby ball nearby. They all had massive smiles on their faces. They were so happy. It makes you think how simple life needs to be to make you happy.
“The lockdown here has made people strip back their lives and people are feeling refreshed and recharged but that for them out there, that’s their daily life. They don’t have access to the amenities that we do but what they do have, they’re very grateful for. They’re very happy living that life. To me, that inspired me and to make me think of what I have and how privileged I am.”
With less than 500 days to go until the 2021 World Cup, Field will be hoping to secure her place in the England squad. However, for now, she is forced to train remotely as she waits to see whether the Women’s Super League will go ahead this season.