Challenge Cup final: Jason Clark's big move to Warrington Wolves pays off
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 24/08/19 9:02am
The decision to uproot his life and move to the other side of the world has more than paid off for Warrington Wolves back row Jason Clark.
Prior to this season, the 30-year-old had spent his entire professional rugby league career with NRL side South Sydney Rabbitohs, progressing from captaining the U20s in the old National Youth Competition to becoming a firm fans' favourite at the club.
But when he was told he would be surplus to requirements at Souths beyond the 2018 campaign - despite a supporters' petition urging Souths to keep him on - Clark decided to accept a two-year contract with Super League side Warrington.
The opportunity to build a new life in a different country is one Clark, his wife and children have seized with both hands though - and now he has a Challenge Cup final at Wembley to look forward to this Saturday.
"It is quite difficult, especially when you've got a wife and three young kids, but I'm quite grown up now so you understand nothing goes forever," Clark told Sky Sports.
"This was a great opportunity to try something different. To be able to bring my wife and daughters over here was awesome as well.
"They've been able to do quite a bit of travelling, so I think that makes them enjoy it a bit more. It's been a great experience and that's all part of it.
"They love watching me play and I love to be able to see them watching me play."
Not that moving to England was without its challenges though, particularly as they arrived in the depths of winter in time for Warrington's return to pre-season training.
Whereas the fairer conditions back in Sydney would have meant being able to go to the beach for the children to let off steam, the Clarks found themselves cooped up inside sheltering from the harsher weather.
But aside from having to make that adjustment, Clark and his family have settled well into life here, with his eldest daughter now playing football and tennis after getting started in rugby in Australia.
"It was quite hard when we first got here for me and my wife with hard weather," Clark said.
"When you've got three kids climbing around the house and tearing it apart, it is quite hard because you can get out in Oz and go to the beach or do something.
"It is quite difficult, especially when you've got a wife and three young kids, but I'm quite grown up now so you understand nothing goes forever"
"But when it's snowing and raining, it makes things a bit harder, but we got through it and it's beautiful weather now."
Warrington go into this Saturday's Challenge Cup final against St Helens aiming to banish memories of last year's 20-14 defeat to Catalans Dragons at Wembley.
Over 10,550 miles away in the early hours of the morning, Clark was watching and keeping a close eye on how his future team-mates were getting on against the French side, having agreed his contract with the Wolves two months prior.
He was glued to the television screen for last year's Super League Grand Final defeat to Wigan Warriors - not to mention Warrington's other televised games - as well and is eager to help ensure his team are the ones celebrating come the final hooter this weekend.
"In Oz, they showed quite a few Super League games on Foxtel, so I always kept an eye on it," Clark said.
"But especially once I signed for Warrington, it was something that was a really big part of what I did during the week. I was watching their games and seeing how they were going.
"I watched both of their finals last year and as much as it was unfortunate, hopefully we can make it different this year."
Clark has been near-on ever-present for the Wolves in both Super League and the Challenge Cup this year, proving a huge asset for Steve Price's team coming off the interchange bench in particular.
Competing on two fronts means there has been little respite for the squad during the season, but the former apprentice carpenter has praised the club's backroom staff for keeping the squad fit and raring to go.
Besides, Clark would quite happily take being involved in the Challenge Cup to having a weekend without a game - especially with a final at an iconic venue now on the horizon.
"If you get knocked out you do get those weeks off, but I think I'd rather be playing because look what we get this week," Clark said.
"Not many people get a chance to do this, so it's something to tick off. You put everything into it and we've got 80 minutes to go, so all we need to do is play good footie for 80 minutes and hopefully we can hold that cup up.
"I've had so many people say to me it's a boyhood dream to be able to play at Wembley, and I've been here nine or 10 months and I'm going to be doing that. It's quite surreal, but it's something to tick off the bucket list."