Castleford Tigers: Derrell Olpherts targets ‘big things’ at the Tigers
HE WAS present at one of Castleford’s darkest hours – supporting the opposition – and now recruit Derrell Olpherts is hoping to help bring some glory days to the Tigers.
Olpherts was a Wakefield fan when Trinity beat their near-neighbours in a sudden-death relegation shoot-out at Belle Vue in the final round of the 2006 season, sending Tigers tumbling out of the top flight.
“I am a local lad, from Wakefield, and I grew up watching Castleford and Wakefield,” said the utility-back who has joined Tigers from Salford Red Devils on a three-year deal.
“I have known about them a long time and they are part of rugby league in Yorkshire, but I was a Wakey fan and I remember going down there when Wakey knocked them out of Super League.
“I was at that game, but I was a young kid then – I have got a different shirt on now.”
Olpherts, 27, began his career with Dewsbury Rams in 2012 and also had spells at Hemel Stags and Newcastle Thunder before moving up to Super League when Salford signed him ahead of the 2018 season. He scored nine tries in 23 games during 2019, but reckons Tigers can take his game to a new level.
“It’s good to be around a new environment and doing different things,” he said. “The lads are all friendly, there’s a good vibe around the place and it’s a great place to be.
“I am excited about the move, excited about the year, but I’ll just take it one thing at a time. I just want to get this pre-season out of the way, tick that box and then process again and go from there.”
Salford were the surprise package in Betfred Super League last term, finishing third and knocking Tigers out of the play-offs before losing to St Helens in the Grand Final. Olpherts, though, insisted he has made an ambitious move.
“I think everyone wants to achieve big things,” he stressed. “I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to do that.”
Known as a strong runner and a powerful finisher – and able to play full-back, centre or wing – Olpherts’ initial challenge is to establish himself as a first-choice Super League player. He said: “I want to make sure I do everything I can and then take it from there. I can only control what I can control. I’ll get my head down, train hard and hopefully that will happen.”
Fellow recruit Sosaia Feki, a winger who scored 67 tries in 148 NRL appearance for Cronulla Sharks, arrived at the club this week and Olpherts reckons the competition will bring the best out of the entire backline.
“There’s great competition in the outside-backs,” he said. “That’s good for everyone – and for the team.”
Meanwhile, Feki will begin pre-season with his new side on Monday. The 28-year-old, who was born in Auckland and has played for Tonga, said: “I’m pretty excited, I was nervous at the start, but I’m here and I’m looking forward to it.
“I’d been at Cronulla for seven years and Castleford gave me an offer and I’ve taken it with both hands.
“It’s a new challenge I am looking forward to.”