FORMER SUPER League young player of the year Ben Crooks is a “perfect” signing for Castleford Tigers, according to coach Daryl Powell.
Tigers today confirmed the 22-year-old centre will join them on a three-year deal, beginning next season, just a day after they released utility-back Jordan Tansey to join neighbours Wakefield Trinity Wildcats.
Crooks scored 30 tries in 45 appearances for Hull from 2012-2014, before moving to Australian club Parramatta Eels. Hull retained his Super League registration and have received a “nominal fee” for his release.
“I think he will be perfect for us,” predicted Powell, who played alongside Ben’s father Lee Crooks for Great Britain. “He had an unbelievable season for Hull in 2013 and we’re looking for him to recapture that form.
“From an attacking perspective, he has got good speed and an eye for the tryline. He is very skilful and I think he has put a bit of size on since he has been in Australia.”
Lee Crooks scored 1,265 points in 222 appearances for Tigers from 1990-1997.
Powell said: “Everybody talks about his dad; that has no bearing on how Ben is going to go, but Lee found his best form at Castleford and I think we are going to get the best out of Ben in our environment. I am looking forward to having him on board.”
Crooks has yet to feature in Parramatta’s senior team, but has been playing on the wing for their under-20s in the Holden Cup and believes the experience will benefit him when he links up with Castleford to begin pre-season training in November.
“Joining Parramatta Eels was designed to improve my skills and mature me both as a player and a person in the highest-quality environment in world rugby league, while experiencing a new independent and memorable lifestyle,” Crooks said.
“Even though I have not yet managed to break through and play in the NRL, I believe I have achieved my goals in my career development and will return to Super League a better player for the experience. I have loved my time at Parramatta and thank everyone for their guidance and support.”
Crooks was Super League’s young player of the year and a member of the competition’s Dream Team in 2013, though he failed to build on that the following season and spent time playing in the Championship with Hull’s partner club Doncaster.
“We have had talks with a handful of Super League clubs, including a return to Hull FC,” he added.
“Castleford Tigers are my hometown club, who made a determined effort to sign me both now and when I first turned professional and I am anticipating an exciting new chapter in my career.
“The Tigers have made massive strides on and off the field in the past two years and I am looking forward to working with Daryl Powell, who has a proven track record of bringing out the best in players and thus fulfilling their potential.”
Castleford are also understood to have signed 20-year-old centre Greg Minikin from their Kingstone Press National One partner club York City Knights. Tansey was released yesterday, allowing him to join Wildcats on a deal until the end of 2016.