CINDERELLA MAN Liam Finn has signed a new contract which could keep him at Castleford Tigers until the end of 2017.
The 30-year-old half-back joined Tigers last winter on a one-season deal and has now penned a two-year extension, with an option for an extra 12 months.
Finn spent a decade in the lower divisions before moving to Tigers last December, when he was released by Featherstone Rovers.
His rags to riches tale has been one of the success stories of the 2014 campaign, but he reckons there are more twists and turns to come.
“I am very pleased,” said Finn, who captained Ireland during last year’s World Cup. “I came to Castleford to take an opportunity for one year and see where it took me.
“For the club to want to keep me for a bit longer is pleasing and it’s pleasing I have managed to do a good enough job to earn a new contract. Hopefully I can kick-on and establish myself as a Super League player.”
Finn was the outstanding player outside the top-flight during his time under Daryl Powell at Featherstone Rovers and the coach has pin-pointed Finn as a key figure in Tigers’ strong start to the season, which saw them begin round 14 – the midway point of the campaign – in third spot on the First Utility Super League table.
“I pretty much knew the systems and structures he was going to put in place from working with Daryl before,” Finn said. “It made it a bit easier for me to fall into that, than for some of the other lads who haven’t played like that before.
“It is nice and positive to hear the good comments, but I think I am just part of a good team at the moment and I am enjoying it.”
Finn made 23 Super League appearances for Halifax and Wakefield Trinity Wildcats from 2002-2004 and no other player has returned to the top-flight after such a long time in the lower leagues.
“I think if you step up a level anywhere in any sort of profession you have got a point to prove, whether to yourself or anybody else,” he said.
“First and foremost I wanted to prove to myself I could play Super League after watching it for the last 10 years and thinking to myself I could do it. That’s the easy part, but when you get thrown into a Super League game you’ve got to put your money where your mouth is and give it your best shot.
“There is definitely room for improvement. I was happy with the way I started the season, but felt I dropped off a little bit and it probably cost me my place in the team a couple of times.
“Jamie (Ellis) came in and played well and put massive pressure on the half-back positions.
“I really feel like I’ve had to up my game again in recent weeks and hopefully now with the new deal I can concentrate even more on my rugby and try to improve and try to not just be a Super League player, but be a good Super League player.”
Finn said, despite his new deal, he is not yet looking beyond 2014.
“I want to keep improving and hopefully we will carry on this year, kick-on from the start we’ve had and cement our place in the top-four,” he stated.
“We can’t worry too much about what’s happening next season, because everything changes at the end of the year.
“You get a long time off and have players coming in and going out, so this season is the focus for all of us and we want to finish it off on a high.”
Finn will be looking to celebrate his new deal with a strong performance on Sunday, at home to another surprise package Widnes Vikings.
He said: “Widnes are a good team.
“And they are playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of trust in each other.
“We are going to have to play well this week and play for a full 80 minutes to have a chance of beating them.”