New centre star Ben Crooks is confident that Castleford Tigers will be competing for trophies in the season ahead.
Crooks, son of rugby league legend Lee, believes he has joined a club on the up and is excited at the prospect of helping the Tigers take the next step after fourth and fifth finishes in Super League in the last two years.
He told the Express: “Cas have been going really well. Daryl’s pulled them out of a great hole.
“People were tipping them to finish bottom of the league and they ended up coming back and finishing fourth in 2014 then in 2015 they just missed the top four.
“There’s great expectation on this club now. People are seeing us up there and now we are expected to do something more than just be close runners.
“We feel that we can really go out and win something this year.
“The club is getting a new stadium. It is definitely a club on the up and it’s something I am looking forward to being part of.”
Crooks is already enjoying working with head coach Daryl Powell and believes he can bring the best out of him.
He said: “Daryl was really the main reason I want to come to Cas at this time.
“He just brings the best out of the players and I’ve only been here a short while but I’m really enjoying coming training.
“I think that’s one of the biggest things you can do in the game. If you don’t enjoy where you’re playing and going to work you are not going to get the best out of you.
“Everyone here seems to love training here and I’m sure it can bring the best out of me.
“They are a great set of lads and Daryl’s a great coach.”
Crooks is looking forward to linking up on the field with team-mates in what could be an exciting back division.
He said: “It will be good to link up with Denny Solomona, he’s quick on his feet and very skilful. It’s something that plays well with my game, I like to be an attacking player and like getting the ball in my hands and running around.
“Watching Denny the last couple of years he likes doing the same so it’s something that’s quite exciting.
“It will be good to get some tips as well from players at the club like Michael Shenton. I had a similar experience at Hull with Kirk Yeaman.
“Coming here Shenny is of similar stature really. He’s got an old head on his shoulders, but he’s still raring and going and he has a lot of experience he can pass down to me and I’ve got a lot of things I can learn from him. That’s another thing I’m looking forward to.”
Ben is obviously going to be compared to his father, but said that his decision to join the Tigers was not influenced by Lee.
He added: “The only input my dad had was half-way through the year when Daryl came up to him and asked if I would come back.
“But there’s pictures of him up on the wall everywhere so I can’t really hide from him.
“My dad’s my dad, he’s done his own thing, I’m a different player and a different person.
“Comparisons don’t bother me. People always make comments and it tickled me a bit when I was younger and didn’t know how to deal with it as much. But growing up and doing interviews people ask me about my dad. But at the end of the day the things he achieved in the game were great and I’m really proud of him, but that was his time and this is my time now.
“He played in a completely different position. There’s things I’m better at than my dad was and things he was better at, but if I can achieve half the things my dad achieved then I will be very proud.”