CASTLEFORD TIGERS centre Ben Crooks is determined to show his old club what he is really capable of tonight.
Crooks played for Hull from 2012-2014, but left – with a year remaining on his contract – to join Australian side Parramatta.
He returned to England in the autumn and will be back at his old stomping ground for the first time this evening as Cas bid to extend their unbeaten start to three matches.
Crooks was Super League’s young player of the year in 2013 and also featured in that season’s Dream Team, but admitted his form fell away towards the end of his time at Hull.
Tonight would be the perfect time to get back to the way he was three years ago, and he said: “That is one of the reasons I wanted to come back to Super League.
“I know I am a lot better player than how I finished in 2014. I am really enjoying my rugby again and to go back to the KC so early and show what I can actually do is going to be really exciting for me.”
Crooks added: “I haven’t been back to the KC since I left.
“There’s no hard feelings between me or the club or the players.
“We parted as friends, so I am excited to go back and get back out there.
“It is just business, so I have just got to get out there and carry on.
“A lot of the boys I grew up playing with are still there and it will be interesting to play against my friends rather than with them, for a change.”
Tonight is a crucial game for both clubs. Hull are a point clear of Tigers in the early-season First Utility Super League table and Crooks observed: “They have started well.
“They have got a big side this year and they are showing a lot of skill on the back of it.
“We didn’t get off to the greatest start against Hull KR, but we came back and showed what we could do against Wakefield.
“We have just got to go out there and back it up. It is all about us. We haven’t focused too much on them. We know they are a big, strong, physical side and it is going to be a really hard battle for most of the game, but we are confident we can go there and get the job done.”
Tonight’s game will pose a dilemma for Ben’s dad Lee, who is a legend at both Hull and Castleford and works on matchdays at KC Stadium.
Ben said: “He has always been a massive fan [of Hull], but he has always been my number one supporter as well.
“I am sure he will be standing there with a black and white tie on and he might have a Cas shirt underneath!”
Both teams could be unchanged from their last game. Ryan Hampshire and Will Maher are hoping for a call up for Tigers, with Jordan Abdull and Chris Green added to the 17 on duty last time out for Hull.
Hull: from Shaul, Michaels, Logan, Tuimavave, Talanoa, Pryce, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Manu, Minichiello, Thompson, Ellis, Bowden, Pritchard, Washbrook, Abdull, Green.
Castleford Tigers: from Dorn, Monaghan, Crooks, Webster, Solomona, Roberts, Gale, Lynch, McShane, Millington, O Holmes, McMeeken, Jewitt, Milner, Moors, Massey, Cook, Hampshire, Maher.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.