RETURNING FAVOURITE Rangi Chase says he is thankful to Castleford Tigers for giving him an opportunity to revive his flagging career.
After less than three full seasons away Chase has rejoined Tigers until the end of the year, with an option for a longer-term deal.
A Man of Steel winner and England international during his time at the Jungle, Chase considered giving up rugby league following ill-fated spells with Salford Red Devils and Leigh Centurions.
But after two training sessions back at Castleford, the 30-year-old half-back said he is feeling “on top of the world” and is determined to regain the form he showed during his previous spell.
“It feels like I never left Cas,” said New Zealand-born Chase, who played for Tigers from 2009-2013.
“I hadn’t been happy with rugby. I hadn’t been enjoying playing, I kept trying to pick myself up and be as happy as I could, but obviously it wasn’t to be so I stepped away from the game.
“That has refreshed me and done me a lot of good. While I’ve been off I’ve been thinking and the last time I really, really enjoyed playing was at Cas, down at the home ground.
“There’s no crowd better than this one and no stadium better when you are playing here on a Sunday afternoon or Friday night.
“Just thinking of the times when I was really happy when I was here, I miss those times.
“I got a chance to come back and I was never going to let it go.
“I feel blessed. I feel like I have been given another chance when most people would have turned their shoulder against me because I have got a bit of a history when I haven’t lived up to what I can do.”
Chase could make his second debut on Sunday when Tigers face visitors Catalans Dragons.
“I am not match fit, but mentally I am in the best shape I have ever been in,” he said.
“It is like being a young kid, I am just happy about everything. That’s the sort of frame of mind I am in. Physically I have got a bit of work to do, but you can get through anything if you are mentally right.
“There is some hard work to do, I am aware of that, but I am looking forward to it.”
This weekend is Super League’s State of Mind round, raising awareness of depression and mental health issues.
After going through some “dark days” during the past two years, Chase is giving the campaign his full backing.
“I think it’s massive, it is credit to the RFL for doing it,” he said. “A lot of the boys do struggle from it.
“It is not something some people like talking openly about because it makes you feel weak and vulnerable, but I think people should be aware of it.
“It is good to get the message out there that it does happen in our game and a lot of people do suffer from depression.
Coach Daryl Powell said Chase has “a chance” of featuring on Sunday: “He is a pretty talented player and if we can get him back anywhere near that we know we are going to have a player that can make things happen.
“He is a great signing for us and I don’t see it as any gamble.”
Powell confirmed Jake Webster (ankle), Mike McMeeken (fractured ankle) and Joel Monaghan (dislocated shoulder) are all facing a “medium to long-term” lay-offs after being hurt in the defeat at Salford.
Wakefield prop Anthony England was given a two-match ban and a £300 fine, by the RFL Disciplinary last night, after admitting a grade B shoulder charge on St Helens captain Jon Wilkin during the defeat by Saints.
Wigan will be without front rower Lee Mossop for their home game against Wakefield on Friday after he was given a one-match ban and £300 fine for a trip on Glenn Stewart during his side’s win at Catalans.
Leeds forward Brad Singleton was given a £300 fine after pleading guilty to grade A high tackle against Widnes, but he avoided a ban. Former Leeds and Wakefield forward Willie Poching will leave his role as Hull KR assistant coach at the end of this season.