Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has identified the versatile Frankie Mariano as a valuable member of his first team squad.
Although often used as a substitute, Mariano has played in every Tigers game this season and his performances have earned him a new two-year contract extension.
Mariano, 27, joined the Tigers ahead of the current First Utility Super League season from Wakefield Wildcats and his new deal will see him remain at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle at least until the end of 2016.
Powell said: “It is great news for the club that Frankie has signed a new contract for the next two years.
“He has continued to improve throughout the year and has lots of room to develop his game even further.
“He is a big athlete with potential to play in three positions, which makes him a valuable member of our squad.”
Mariano celebrated his new contract with his fourth try of the season at Magic Weekend against former team Wakefield.
He is enjoying it at Cas and is looking forward to improving his game further in a side that could be pushing for honours at the end of the season.
He said: “I feel really comfortable. I’ve never felt as comfortable as I do now in this team which is a big factor and it’s showing in my game.
“I wanted to play in every game, but it’s not something I expected with being in a brand new side and having to work my way in.
“Obviously I’ve done something right for Daryl Powell to keep playing me and this is exactly what I needed and wanted. Hopefully I can carry on, keep progressing and keep getting better.
“I feel that I have improved every week as I get a better understanding of the team and how we’re playing. We’ve had a few lapses, but we know where we have gone wrong which is the main thing.
“The team has gelled since day one of training and my style of playing fits with everybody else’s and we’re working well as a team. I feel like I’m progressing week in, week out, but I know that I’ve got a lot more to come.”
Mariano wants to play a senior role in helping guide the young talent coming through at Cas.
He added: “My ultimate target is to be a regular in a great team at a great club with great fans and I think I’ve got that here.
“We’ve started the season well and we’re hoping to finish it even better. Over the next couple of years I’d like to take more of a leadership role as I’m obviously not one of the younger ones in the squad, so I need to start showing my experience and try and look after some of the younger lads coming through.”
Powell, meanwhile, had more words of praise for his team for the way they played at the Magic Weekend.
He said: “We were outstanding once we got ourselves into the game.
“I thought we started a little bit scratchy, but once we got the game by the horns we were outstanding in every department.
“Marc Sneyd got a lot of accolades for his performance and Daryl Clark was superb. But pretty much every player had a lot of good quality parts to their game.
“Overall it was an excellent performance from the team. As a unit they were really solid, really professional.
“We conceded a couple of softish tries, but overall defensively I thought we were outstanding and that’s usually the sign being strong and together.
“It was good to win again after the two defeats, but we’ve been playing well. I thought we were unlucky to lose at Huddersfield and against Leeds we were outstanding for 40 minutes and slipped off a little bit.
“We’re going well. We’re always looking to improve and tidy up a few bits and pieces, but overall I think we’re in a pretty good groove at the moment.”