SOME STERN words from his boss turned Jake Webster’s season around.
The Kiwi centre has been one of Castleford Tigers’ form players over the second half of their First Utility Super League campaign, but admits his early performances were poor.
Webster – who has been named in Tigers’ squad for tomorrow’s derby at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats, despite being knocked out away to Hull last week – conceded: “At the start of the year I wouldn’t have got in any side, I was the first to admit that.
“I got a few disgruntled words from the coach. I had a bit of a head knock then and my head was a bit iffy so he pulled me aside and told me to get myself right. I worked harder than I have done in the last few years to get a shot again, whether it’s to prove to Castleford I’m worth another deal or whether it’s to someone else. I think I’m starting to do that, there’s little things I need to work on, but if I keep working hard like I am, I’ll be around for a few years yet.”
Tigers seemed set to part company with Webster at the end of this season, but his recent form has prompted a rethink.
“I can honestly say I’m in no rush to leave,” he said. “We’re taking it week by week and if something happens, it happens. I just want to keep improving and guide Cas to the top-four at the moment. I’m just loving my footy at the moment and loving Cas.
“I’m very happy here, especially now I’m starting to get a combination with Denny (Solomona). The right side of ours has been a bit iffy for the last few years, but it feels like it’s starting to fall into place. Even though they’ve signed Ben Crooks, I’d be happy to stay – it’s healthy competition and I’ll make sure he has to be outstanding to get that spot.”
Last week’s defeat has made tomorrow a must-win game for Tigers if they are to finish in the top-four and secure an extra home fixture for the Super-8s.
“We hit a bit of a speed bump last weekend,” Webster admitted. “That was the Cas we don’t like to be seen as, but hopefully we’ll right the wrongs this week. Hull wanted it more and we’ve got to turn our attitude around and put things right. It’s a derby and form and league positions go out of the window – it’s about getting the bragging rights.
“We don’t want to disappoint our fans after losing the first game of the season. It’s for the team, the town and the fans, as well as the club. We’re going to make sure we are doing everything we can to go out there on Sunday and get the bragging rights and ensure we stay in touch of finishing in the top four.”
But Webster insisted bottom club Wildcats will be no push-overs. He added: “They are improving week on week. They are a quality side and although it’ll take them a while, it will click soon. You don’t know what you’re going to get from them, but they’ll come out firing – I know that much.”
Luke Gale has recovered from illness and is set to return for Tigers tomorrow. Ashley Gibson is also in contention. Wildcats coach Brian Smith will again make a host of changes with Stuart Howarth, Tom Johnstone, Ali Lauitiiti, Jon Molloy, Mickael Simon, Tim Smith and new signing Anthony Mullally all named in the initial 19 and Chris Riley, Ben Kavanagh, Matty Ashurst, Matt Ryan and Michael Sio dropping out.