Hunslet Club Parkside prop Jamie Fields has returned from Fiji following a BARLA tour to remember.
After being named tour captain, he led the side ably throughout and was also the main goal-kicker in games against West Fiji, Australian Affiliated States and Fiji Bati Residents.
This was his second BARLA tour, having also been called up to represent his country at Under-23 level in Jamaica a few years ago and the Yorkshire man previously skippered the White Rose county at under-19s and open age.
Reflecting on the journey to the South Pacific, Fields said: “We settled pretty early on tour. Fiji is an eye-opener.
“There are different parts and in some it’s obvious to see they have more money, especially around Denerau Island and the port, compared with village life.
“We had to adapt to each situation we found ourselves in. From day one. I refused to let anything bother me because ‘Fiji time’ is just unreal. If they say fifteen minutes, they mean an hour!
“You’ve just got to be really patient and relaxed and that’s how it should be in other countries.
“They do things at their own pace, everyone is happy.
“Most people have minimal money, minimal finance, but they are really happy people, the nicest that I’ve ever met.
“It’s a beautiful place if you can get your head around the timing and the amount of time it takes to do something.”
“I’m proud that we’ve come and seen parts of Fiji that we never thought we’d see. I’ve got many stories.”
Fields quipped: “At home, I’m not quite as patient but one man and a rugby team aren’t going to come and change their world.”
The Lions tried to vary their training schedule to find the best conditions. “The first couple of training sessions in that heat were something that I’ve never encountered before in my life, and I’ve been to Jamaica as well and trained in the heat over there,” continued Fields.
“At times, it was unbearable. The first training session we did at the army barracks, there was no sun out at all.
“It was totally overcast and everyone including myself burned that day.
“We then changed it up and trained later in the evening and it felt like there was an extra gear in you.
“It wasn’t as energy-sapping. You had more in your legs and the standard of training went up a gear which boosted everyone’s attitude.
“It was like a domino effect, rather than training in the heat of the day, gasping for water and wantingfor it to end.”
“Things got better. It was a big learning curve and we didn’t know where to set our stall out. The staff and management did an exceptional job of getting things right for us.”
As well as keepsakes and a new tattoo, Fields also returned to the UK with a badly broken thumb and faces a few weeks on the sidelines while Parkside return to full training.