JASON Clark can play rugby league with his eyes closed… well, almost anyway.
The South Sydney Toyota Cup captain is colour blind – a rare condition that means he often has trouble distinguishing shades of colour out on the football field.
“It does impact a little bit I suppose… when we versed Penrith, our home jumper was black as well and playing another team with a similar jumper does mix it up a bit,” Clark says.
He may not be picking up all the colours of the rainbow but red and green is all that matters to the born-and-bred South Sydney junior.
A product of local side Coogee Randwick Wombats (a loyal participant in the fan rallies that saved Souths back at the start of this century) and a regular for Souths Juniors right through the grades, there is no better team captain in the Toyota Cup than Clark.
The 19-year-old played all but one game of last year’s inaugural competition, skippering the likes of Chris Sandow, Eddie Paea, Luke Capewell and Eddy Pettybourne on their way up to first grade.
While he will captain the -20s again this year, 2009 should herald Clark’s turn to progress through to the NRL.
His Rabbitohs heart bled red and green during the pre-season when he got the chance to play in Souths’ ‘Return to Redfern’ first grade trial against the Wests Tigers.
The utility – who is capable of playing back row, hooker and in the halves – is desperate to force his way into Jason Taylor’s reckoning.
“Just knowing what it felt like to finally tackle a first grader running at 100 per cent, not just like training… it was quite a buzz,” he says.
“It was awesome. It was something I’ve wanted to do since I was quite young actually, and seeing my mum and dad up in the stand helped me a lot. They knew my main goal in life was to pull on a first grade Souths jumper and it couldn’t have been at a better time than on that day at Redfern. Obviously that wasn’t my debut game but hopefully I’ll get a chance in the NRL this year.”
Do you think having a full season in last year’s Toyota Cup will stand you in good stead for the year ahead?
I think so. We went well during the season last year, which was a bonus, and being a younger bloke it was good to play in such a strong competition; it was a good learning experience. I only missed one game last year so I feel pretty good coming into this season.
Do you enjoy the role of captain?
I do. I feel like it’s a bit more of a role to play in the team. It’s nothing different playing-wise but just having that responsibility as well among the team is great. It’s good to try and help the team though the game and through its highs and lows.
What position are you setting your sights on this year?
I did play hooker in the trial. I’ve never played hooker before but I’ve known what different positions have to do, so I fitted in there quite well. But knowing they’ve got Issac Luke and Beau Falloon there, I know I’m not going to be there straight away. In saying that, I don’t mind playing in the back row on the left edge and in the middle of the field. I wouldn’t say I’m the quickest person on the field but I try to talk as much as I can. I do like to do a bit of ball-playing in the back row and hit holes as well. I play a bit on the edge, with a bit of footwork.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I work five or six days a week doing my second year carpentry apprenticeship, so that keeps me pretty busy. But when I get time off I don’t mind surfing, or even snow boarding when I get the chance to go down to the snow. I also like to do a bit of fishing with the old man.