AFTER A season away in the more structured NRL, Castleford Tigers’ new signing Joe Wardle cannot wait for the chance to cut loose and show what he can do under Daryl Powell’s expansive style in 2018.
The hard-hitting second-row left Huddersfield Giants for Newcastle Knights last winter, but cut short his stay in Australia midway through his first season having struggled to settle.
It was not that Wardle did not contribute on the field – he made 17 appearances for his former Huddersfield boss Nathan Brown – but life Down Under was not quite what he had expected.
“It was a crazy experience really,” said the 26-year-old forward, who, having featured with the NRL wooden spoonists, will now add more bite to the League Leaders’ Shield winners here.
“I’m glad we tried it but if we’d have known a couple of things beforehand maybe we wouldn’t have gone in the first place.
“One is just how expensive it is but, as a family, I am glad we did try it all.
“It just wasn’t for us. I’m looking forward to getting going again in Super League.
“A lot of people don’t realise just how different the NRL is. It’s a lot more like touch and pass really. It’s strange.
“Over here, we chance our arm a bit coming out of yardage but in Oz they are structured all the time.
“They speed the game up, speed it up some more and then once it is fast that’s when they try and exploit it.
“It was a good change to learn a different style, though, and I thought personally I went OK considering it was my first year there in a new competition, new team and new country.
“I’m pretty proud of how I went for Newcastle but now it’s all about Castleford.”
Halifax-born Wardle is looking forward to hopefully benefitting from Powell’s attacking tendencies in a Tigers side that finished top by a record 10 point margin this season only to falter in their maiden Grand Final against Leeds Rhinos.
“Everyone knows me for the defensive side of my game,” said a player, who started at Bradford Bulls before making his name during six years at Giants.
“But speaking to Daryl, you know he likes to throw the ball around and I think he could probably take the attacking aspect of my game to a new level.”
Wardle is looking forward to fitting in with the players already at Cas who got the team ticking to new heights last season.
He added: “It’s great to play with quality players like Luke Gale, too, and especially Paul McShane.
“How he’s not playing for England I’m not sure; he is unreal. His smartness out of dummy-half, that left-foot kicking game and just his toughness of character while he always seems to do everything right.
“I’ll hopefully be on that left edge (outside Gale) but I know I have to break in first as there’s Oli Holmes there and Alex Foster. We’re all pushing each other hard in training, which is good.”