HE MAY be a chip off the old block, but Ben Crooks is determined to make a name for himself in his own right at Castleford Tigers.
The 22-year-old former Hull centre has returned from a stint in Australia to join Tigers on a three-year deal.
He is following in the footsteps of his father Lee, who also began his career at Hull and later became a Tigers legend.
But Ben, who grew up in Castleford, revealed his decision to move to the Jungle was not influenced by his famous dad.
“A lot of people ask me that, but it’s quite the opposite,” he said. “He has always given me his backing, whatever I do, but he played for Hull and Castleford and I did wonder whether I should go and get out of the spotlight.
“This is a great opportunity for me. Daryl (Powell) is a great coach, he has made some great signings and he has been in charge a couple of years and pulled them out of a hole.
“They just missed out on the top-four last year, they were a top-four side two years ago and they are getting a new stadium.
“It is definitely a club on the up and it’s something I am looking forward to being part of.”
Crooks was rated as one of the hottest properties in the British game when he burst on to the Super League scene with Hull. He made his debut in 2012 and was the competition’s young player of the year and a Dream Team selection the following year.
He struggled to make a similar impact in 2014 and signed for Australian club Parramatta Eels on a two-year deal at the end of the campaign, but did not make an NRL appearance and was released from his contract to return to Super League.
Crooks began pre-season training with Castleford this week and he said: “I’m glad to be back in England for sure.
“There’s some great things happening in Australia, but there’s no place like home. I was keeping an eye on Super League while I was over there and when I got an opportunity to come home I could not wait.
“I am a Cas lad and as a kid you always want to play for your hometown club. It will be a privilege to be able to play for Cas.
“When the opportunity came I had a word with Daryl and it is something I am looking forward to doing.”
Crooks insisted he is ready and willing to fight for his place in Tigers’ 2016 line-up. He added: “There’s some good players here and everyone has got to be on their toes. It is good, because it produces healthy competition. It can only benefit the team.”
Crooks admitted the first week of pre-season has been a shock to the system. “It has been good,” he said. They are a great set of lads, they have welcomed me and I have enjoyed it so far.
“Nobody likes doing pre-season. It is the hardest part of the job, but it is something that has got to be done.
“It’s tough when there’s nothing at the end of it, other than more training, but it helps you get mentally and physically stronger. My body is a bit sore at the moment, but I’ll get there – in a week or two I’ll be right as rain.”