Former Dragons speedster Jai Field was a surprise addition to the Parramatta Eels team sheet for their Friday night trial against the Rabbitohs, handed a train-and-trial chance after hopes of joining Leeds encountered turbulence.
With originally-named trial fullback Will Smith withdrawing with an infection picked up in the NRL Nines at Perth, youngster John Fonua started at the back and had some nice touches before the 22-year-old Shellharbour junior took over for the second 40 minutes.
"He turned up yesterday," smiled coach Brad Arthur after the game.
"He was supposed to be [in Leeds], he turned up yesterday so we just threw him out there."
Field had an understandably rusty start after the limited build up, having positional issues in defence and some worries under the high ball. However his blistering pace was on show when a teammates kick was charged down; despite giving up a healthy head start Field hit the afterburners to race past his opposition and defuse the chance.
Match Highlights: Eels v Rabbitohs
He also had some dangerous runs as the game wore on.
"He went all right. He's fast!" Arthur said.
"He's going to train and trial with us. We'll see how he goes, we're a bit light on for depth in the outside backs."
Of the game overall, in which most of the club's NRL forwards other than Junior Paulo and Ryan Matterson were given a run, Arthur said the Eels got what they needed from the 28-24 loss.
"Bit scrappy but we got what we needed to get out of it," he said.
"We got some running into some of those forwards early and no injuries which was good. We got some reserve grade boys out there who've been training throughout the pre-season got an opportunity.
New recruit Reagan Campbell-Gillard played the opening 20 minutes of his first outing in blue and gold.
"He didn't have to do a lot of defence because we had a bit of ball there early but he put his hand up and had some strong carries and said he felt good, his lungs felt good which was the main thing, we just wanted to give him a blow and see how he goes," Arthur added.
He expected to play a virtual NRL-strength trial team next week in Bega against Penrith.
"I reckon we'll probably play the [main squad] 60 minutes then make some changes after 60 minutes," he said.
"Try and get Junior and Reg 40 or 45, something like that, give our back-rowers, the rest of the forwards 60 minutes."
While Blake Ferguson and Brad Takairangi are invovled in the All Stars fixture this week, next week Arthur expected to have every player available barring Waqa Blake, who injured his shoulder playing for Fiji in the World Cup Nines in October.
"Waqa is tracking all right for round one," Arthur said.
"He did his shoulder in the World Nines so he won't have any games but he should be all right for round one."
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