SAM Burgess once called Jason Clark “his greatest ever teammate.”

While not a player who will readily scoop up individual accolades, his selflessness is so highly valued by all around him.

And it was that endearing quality that helped bring one of the greatest players of the modern era to Warrington Wolves for this year.

Since it was revealed he was coming out of retirement to join The Wire for 2021, Greg Inglis has spoken openly about how influential Clark was on his decision.

The pair won an NRL Premiership together with South Sydney Rabbitohs in 2014 – the highlight of a relationship that started when Inglis joined the Bunnies in 2011.

It kept going when Clark moved to England to join Warrington for 2019 and ‘GI’ detailed how a lockdown catch-up quickly put the wheels in motion for the latest in a long line of eye-catching signings for the club.

“It was just friends chatting and before I knew it, Karl (Fitzpatrick, Wire chief executive) was sending contracts over! It happened quicker than I thought it would,” he said.

“It was just a chat to see how things were going after things got put on hold for him with the season.

“I asked him what it was like playing over there and he said ‘well why don’t you come and join us?’

“I thought ‘well yeah, I’ve got nothing else to do!’

“A couple of weeks later, Warrington were on the phone. We were really excited but we just had to hold off as I had things to sort out at home.

“I had to talk to my family and my partner’s family to see their thoughts about it.

“We won Grand Finals together, Clarky and I and we built a really strong relationship. He goes out of his way for everyone.

“The idea of going round for one last hurrah with him really appealed to me.”

Greg Inglis in training. Picture by Warrington Wolves

Greg Inglis in training. Picture by Warrington Wolves

Adjusting to life in England is nothing new to Clark, having made the move himself with wife Lauren and daughters Milla, Billie and Andi in 2018.

More than two years down the line, the family are helping Inglis and partner Alyse Caccamo do the same – as much as the current Covid-19 pandemic allows.

“I was lucky enough to go and greet him at the airport, which I made a point of wanting to do,” the forward said.

“We had a training session that morning that we got wrapped up nice and quick so I could go and see him.

“I wanted to show him I was here for him as a friend but also as a teammate. It’s a big change for him and his partner.

“It’s hard right now with Covid but in time, we’ll show him all the places we love.

“I can’t wait to show him around because we really do think it’s a lovely town.”

There was a time where it looked like the 31-year-old might not be around to welcome his great friend to the town he now calls home.

With his contract up at the end of 2020 and the pull of life in a Covid-free Australia stronger than ever, the Clark family considered calling time on their spell in England.

However, a new deal was signed and now he can observe and experience the effect Inglis has on his teammates up close and personal once again.

“He’s an unbelievable player and person but he’s got a lot of knowledge to share,” the loose forward said.

“He might seem a bit quiet and stand-offish but I think that’s just his nature.

“I see a lot of the young fellas being in awe of him because he is arguably the greatest player of the past few years.

“He’ll be working a lot with our centres, wingers, full-backs and back rowers to really get those combinations on point.

“You could see at Souths and at Melbourne how he helped bring all of those players together.

“Any team Greg’s gone into, he knew most of the players – whether that was Melbourne, Souths, Queensland or Australia, he would know pretty much the whole team."

Jason Clark in action against Swinton earlier this year. Picture by Mike Boden

Jason Clark in action against Swinton earlier this year. Picture by Mike Boden

All eyes will now be on what mark Inglis can make on the pitch as he makes his long-awaited Wire debut against Hull KR on Saturday.

Having won almost every honour the game has to offer Down Under as well as a couple of World Cups with his country, he will now try and crack the northern hemisphere.

He has wowed audiences on these shores in brief appearances with the Australian national team and in World Club Challenge matches for both Melbourne and Souths, but the chance to play in front of those audiences week in, week out appealed.

“In the end, it’s been well documented that I could have stayed in Australia and played back in the NRL, but this was too good an opportunity to pass up,” the 34-year-old said.

“I’ve been over here a few times and played internationally and in World Club Challenges, but never for a full season.

“That’s something I wanted to experience and I don’t think I would have got another opportunity.”

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