Young back row forward Mike McMeeken is enjoying life in Castleford and has no regrets over leaving the bright lights of London behind.
After arriving from London Broncos in the close season, McMeeken initially struggled to make an impact with the Tigers, but after getting over a niggling injury he has become an established part of the first team in recent weeks and has hit form at a good time for the club as they look to seal a top eight place.
The 21-year-old is delighted the move is paying dividends.
He said: “I am absolutely loving it at Castleford.
“I definitely made the right move. When the opportunity came up last season I took it with both hands really. I was excited to come up here.
“I’m enjoying my time playing in the team and feel like I’m learning from everyone around me – the coaching staff and the players.
“In some aspects it’s different than playing for London last year, obviously winning games. It was not a good situation to be in last year, but I picked up a lot of experience in terms of Super League experience.
“Coming up here I’ve learned from players around me, players who have played international games, and I feel like I’m improving.
“I had an injury over Easter and in a way it was gutting that I missed all the games I did, but at the same time I worked really hard with our conditioner, Ben Cooper.
“I worked on aspects that weren’t so much part of rugby. I worked on my upper body strength and my physical fitness and I think I came back in a better condition than I was before getting injured.”
McMeeken has been part of a Tigers side that has won its last three games to go within touching distance perhaps of clinching a top eight place, but says no-one in the team is getting carried away.
He said: “We are just taking it week by week at the moment and not looking too far ahead.
“We’ve got a big game against St Helens this week and we’ve been focusing on that. Then it will be onto the game after that.
“I’m definitely looking forward to the game, it’s going to be another tough battle.
“I think we’ve still got more to come.
“We’re playing with more confidence now and a bit more consistency.”
McMeeken is set to come up against another London old boy in St Helens’ pack in Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook and is looking forward to the battle with him.
He added: “It’s always good to go up against Louie.
“My brother played with him in the reserve grade so I’ve been watching him since I was about eight years old.
“Coming through the London system you could say he’s one of the players we looked up to.
“He’s come from Greenwich Admirals and he’s gone on to play for England.
“With all the London players making their way in the league the system is working. All the work that Phil Jones has put in over the years is starting to show.”