IT’S A new club yet somehow almost all the same for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats signing Ashley Gibson.
The winger/centre is one of Brian Smith’s leading recruits for 2016 after joining from near neighbours Castleford Tigers.
However, while ordinarily this period of the year – pre-season training – helps such people bed into their new surroundings, there hasn’t been much need for Gibson.
He is one of FIVE players who made the same switch from Castleford at some point in recent months and there are plenty of other familiar faces for him as Trinity prepare for Super League.
“There’s Jordan Tansey who I was at Cas with but also started with in the Leeds Rhinos academy,” explained Gibson.
“I just seem to follow him around everywhere. But there’s Scotty Moore, Liam Finn and Richie Owen who I played with at Cas last season, too, plus a lot of Leeds lads like Nick Scruton who came through the Academy with me into the Rhinos first team and Tans’ plus Ben Jones-Bishop as well.
“Then there’s Matty Ashurst and Stuart Howarth who I played with at Salford so there are quite a few familiar faces.
“It’s just made it easier settling in – it doesn’t seem much different to be honest!”
Gibson, 29, should be an astute acquisition for Trinity; he scored nine tries in 22 games for Castleford last term, showing he was back to near his career best form, impressing at both centre and on the wing.
He had the opportunity to stay on at Wheldon Road at one point but has signed for Wakefield and admitted: “I’m just looking to build on that.
“I started off at centre last season, then a bit of winger which I’d not played for a few years. I’ll try to get that centre spot here and build on it. It is my favourite role. When I was younger I used to play hooker and loose-forward in the Rhinos academy but centre is probably my best spot and I had a few good games there last season.”
Wakefied may have finished bottom in 2015 and only secured their Super League safety after victory over Bradford Bulls in the Million Pound Game.
But he believes they can build under Smith in the campaign ahead.
“Wakey have made some solid signings with the likes of Bish’ and Finny and a couple lads from Australia – Cronulla’s Aaron Tupou and Tinirau Arona – that’s added more strength and experience.
“Brian has loads of experience himself – his stats as a coach speak for themselves – and once I went to meet him near the end of the season, he sold it to me what he wanted to get out of Wakefield.
“We’re not really speaking about league tables or things like that; we’re just all working hard in training and we’ll soon find out how we do look when it comes to the friendlies.
“We’ve got Rhinos first up at Headingley on Boxing Day. I played that game for Leeds for a few years. It’s a good early start so you get it over and done with and there’s always quite a big crowd – you just have to go easy on your Christmas dinner!”