WATCHING Castleford Tigers’ freeflowing football on the box one night convinced Warrington Wolves captain Joel Monaghan he had to sign with them for 2016.
The club today announced they have secured the prolific ex-Australia winger on a two-year deal, a significant coup for Daryl Powell’s side.
Monaghan is one of Super League’s finest finishers having scored 144 tries in as many games for Warrington since joining from Canberra Raiders in 2011.
With a glowing endorsement from coach Tony Smith, he was told he could move on at the end of this season and it is Castleford who have now won the race to capture the former New South Wales State of Origin star.
Monaghan, who had suitors in Super League and the NRL, explained his decision to the YEP: “There was a few options but after watching one of Castleford’s matches near the end of the season, possibly the Rhinos game, I just texted my manager there and then.
“I said I’d really like to go play there and be coached by Daryl if it was possible. They’ve had a fair turnover of players over the last few years yet have been a consistent side.
“Since he’s come on board the style of football they play, the way they are coached... you can tell they are a tight group and he was definitely one of the main attractions.
“There was some other interest here and a bit from back home as well but definitely once I had the offer to come to Cas it was definitely something I wanted to do.
“And just the atmosphere around here, too (at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle) … you don’t get this back home.”
Monaghan’s arrival does not necessarily mean fellow Australian Justin Carney will leave Wheldon Road although Hull FC and Salford Red Devils remain interested in the controversial winger.
Monaghan, meanwhile, is aged 33 now but still playing as well as ever and contributed 17 tries in 27 games for Wolves this term, including a hat-trick fittingly in his final match against Catalans.
Indeed, he hopes to be able to extend his career past the 2017 campaign when his Tigers deal expires.
“The beauty of not just Cas but Super League is that age is not that much of a factor here compared to back home,” he said. “If you’re playing well and feeling good you have a chance of continuing your career.
“It’s something I’m thinking – that I’ve got a good few years in me left – and it’s the beauty of playing on the wing.
“My brother (ex-Warrington hooker Michael) retired at 33 and could barely walk!
“But I have to go out and do my bit first and then worry about that later. I enjoyed my time at Warrington and won some trophies there.
“Back home I’d not had too much team success with Canberra so it was great to be able to do that. It was a rough part of my life back then but coming over to the UK was one of the best things that ever happened to me. Hopefully I can enjoy the same at Cas.
“I’m really looking forward to getting to know the team, the town and learning all the history about this place.”
As pleased as Castleford fans will be with the recruitment, it possibly won’t excite them as much as Monaghan’s father.
“The first thing my dad said when I told him I’d signed at Cas was ‘Oh, I love that place,’” said the player, who won two Challenge Cups and reached two Grand Finals with Warrington.
“He comes over every season and, being 65, keeps saying he loves watching games here – and that’s from the other side of the fence so he’ll love it being on the Cas side!
“Him and my mum come every year. I think they’ll be over in June next.
“They’d not left Australia until (brother) Mick came over here (with Warrington in 2008) and they’ve been over about 10 times now. They love it. They watch the game, travel around and come back the following week to watch the next game.”
Daryl Clark, the England hooker who left hometown Castleford for Warrington 12 months ago, helped Monaghan make his decision.
“I’m really tight with Daz and he can’t speak more highly of Cas,” he said.
“That’s about all I needed from him; he said it was a top place, I’d fit in really well and he knows what kind of person I am. He loves it here.
“And I know Dorny (Luke Dorn) from home. I played a bit with him when I was younger. I played with Millo (Grant Millington) at the (Sydney) Roosters and knew Benny Roberts a bit, too, so I know a few of the Cas boys.
“Towards the end of the year those three were outstanding and since Millo’s come over here he’s been unreal.”
Under Powell’s leadership, Cas’ reached Wembley and fourth spot in 2014 while they finished fifth this time around to suggest they are ready to start challenging for honours.
“That can happen for sure,” added Monaghan. “They were there or thereabouts last year and very close at the end; there was a couple of games in it – some close losses – and win them, they’d have been in that top four where anything could happen. Hopefully I can add something to the team.
“It’s on everyone’s wish list to win a Grand Final especially after playing in two in a row and losing both (with Warrington in 2012 and 2013).”