Returning Castleford Tigers hero Rangi Chase admits the lure of playing in front of what he reckons are the best fans in rugby league at his favourite ground was too strong to keep him out of the game.
Chase retired in May after struggling to recapture former glories at Leigh following an unhappy year at Salford, but now reckons he has got all his enthusiasm back and is delighted to be back where he played the best rugby of his career.
The England half-back, 30, has signed for the Tigers until the end of the season with a club option to extend the deal.
He said: “It feels awesome to be back, it feels like I’ve come back home.
“When you see everyone it feels like I never left. It feels good to be back and I’m excited and looking forward to getting back out on the field.
“Cas is the only place I could see myself being happy and I’m not just saying that because I’m here.
“As I’ve been off I thought about my time at Cas last time and I really, really enjoyed playing here in front of the home crowd.
“There’s no crowd that’s better than this crowd in rugby league. There’s no better stadium when you are playing on a Sunday afternoon or a Friday night.
“I got a chance to come back and I was never going to let it go. I’m lucky enough to get a second chance to come back to Cas and enjoy some rugby.
“I just needed time away from the game. If I hadn’t have had that break I think I would have ended up throwing my career down the drain. I’m just lucky I had that time to get myself together and realise I’ve got a lot to give in the game. I’m only 30 years old.”
Chase does not regret leaving Castleford in 2013, but reckons it taught him a valuable lesson.
He said: “I wouldn’t change what I did. I had to do what I had to do to make me realise how much I love this place.
“Sometimes you’ve got to step away from something to make you realise how much you really love it. That’s what’s happened to me, I’ve gone on my own little journey and it’s made me realise how much I loved playing for Cas and how much I want to play for them again.”
Chase is not sure when he will return to the Cas first team, but he is prepared to knuckle down in training to get toughened up and ready as soon as possible.
He added: “I’m not match fit because I’ve had some time off, but mentally I’m in the best shape I’ve ever been.
“Physically I’ve got a bit of work to do but you can get through anything if you’re mentally right. There’s some hard work to do, I’m aware of that, but I’m looking forward to it.
“I’ll put my hand up to play at any time, but it’s not up to me, it’s the coaching staff that will decide when I’m ready.
“If it was me I would say I’m ready now, but realistically I probably wouldn’t be.
“I’ve got a bit of work to do before I start thinking about playing. I’ve just got to take it a step at a time. I can’t come here and think I’ll be straight into the team. I’ll take it step by step.”