Returning local lad James Clare acknowledges he faces a fight to win a regular place in the Castleford Tigers first team, but he is delighted to be back at the club he has been a lifelong fan of.
When the chance came to go back to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle after three years away the outside back who offers the Tigers options on the wing and at full-back jumped at it.
Clare, 26, has only signed a one-year deal, but intends to make the most of his time back at the club where he has always wanted to play after growing up supporting Cas.
“It’s unbelievable to be back,” he said. “As a fan I enjoyed it growing up and to be a player there was special.
“I was a bit scared to go back, because it was like a dream that had been created, but it is even better than ever.
“It is nice to see how big the club has club has become and the ideas everybody has got.”
Clare has added to the competition for places among the outside backs at the Tigers this year with Ben Roberts earmarked to play at full-back and Greg Eden, Greg Minikin, Garry Lo and Jy Hitchcox all fighting for a place on the wings.
He said: “This Cas team is incredibly talented. There’s some of the best players in Super League here and I know it is going to be difficult to get into the team.
“I’ve had a sit down with Daryl Powell. He’s a coach who likes his players to set their own individual goals, because it keeps you focused on what you want to achieve.
“He has said if I want to start every game there’s steps I am going to have to take to do that, but for me it is just playing in round one against St Helens - that’s the most important thing.
“Hopefully I’ll get another chance against Leeds to show what I can do and hopefully I’ll get a shirt for round one and keep it as long as possible.”
Clare returns as a more complete player after experience with Bradford Bulls in the Championship and Leigh Centurions in the Middle 8s.
“I went to Bradford and started every game for an entire season, which was what I needed for my development.
“It was the right thing to do at the time, but going from relegation to the league leaders is not a bad turnaround.”
Clare reckons he is completely over the ACL injury that blighted his return to Super League after signing for Leigh last year only to be injured in the final pre-season game.
He added: “It’s the most dreaded injury for any sports player. It is not necessarily the most painful, but it takes around nine months to fully heal and get back from. That’s why everybody hates it and fears it the most.
“I managed to get back and play the last few games with Leigh and everything was perfect, I’ve not had any problems since.”