Castleford Tigers star Jake Webster admits he has surprised himself how long he has kept playing at the highest level.
The former New Zealand international – hoping to be back in the Tigers side soon after a niggly rib injury has kept him out of the last two matches – has hit some of the best form of his life at the age of 33 and is really enjoying his rugby with Cas.
Webster has played a big part in improving the Tigers’ right edge attack this year after playing on the left side in 2016 and is pleased with his own form and that of a team that has proved to be the best in Super League so far in 2017.
He said: “I haven’t missed too many games over the last few years and that has been I think the reason why I’ve been getting new contracts.
“Keep me on the field and I know I can do the job and do it well.
“I love it here. It’s what’s given me the hunger to keep playing.
“I didn’t think I’d still be playing at this age, but the boys here and the club have been fantastic with me.
“The whole system here is what’s really got my hunger back and I’m keen to stay on here as long as they’ll have me and the body lets me.”
Webster has been with the Tigers long enough to remember some lean years and is relishing the prospect of winning the League Leaders’ Shield if Cas can pick up five more points from their seven matches in the Super 8s.
He said: “It’s something the club has never done before and it’s something we have got at the forefront of our minds.
“We want to push for that as early as we can and then the Grand Final is the bigger picture. If we can get that sorted soon we can focus on what else is to come.
“It’s pretty exciting playing for Cas this year. I came here when the club wasn’t doing so well and we were hours away from going into receivership so to see where we are now is a real credit to the backroom staff, the coaching staff and the players buying into the system.
“It’s nothing but kudos to the club. It’s been coming a long time and now it’s here we’ve just got to ride the train and make sure we keep it going.
“The fans always yell out we’re a little town in Wakefield so it’s nothing but great to be achieving what we are. Hopefully we can give everyone in this town something to be proud about and cheer about at the end of the year.”
Webster has seen first hand the improvements at the club and puts it down largely to head coach Daryl Powell changing the culture.
He added: “I did come at a real bad time where the club was and I’d seen it when I was at Hull KR that they were happy just to compete if they could. But as soon as Daryl came in he changed the culture of everything. I don’t think the club would be where it is if it wasn’t for Powelly.
“Ryan Sheridan and Danny Orr have developed fantastically underneath him and they have helped us all develop out there. It all just works.
“It’s taken him a while to get the team he’s wanted and the club have supported him in that way. I think everyone he’s brought in has brought something that we needed – it’s not just buying someone for the sake of buying someone.
“By no means are we a finished product. It’s still developing and Daryl still expects the best and changes his expectations every week. We’ve got to rise our game and make sure we’re still in his vision.
“We’ve got to keep building on it and create something that when we leave the players coming through know what to expect when they are here.”