Marking Time: Front-rower Lee Jewitt can’t wait to make his mark in Super League after making his Castleford Tigers debut. Peter Smith reports.
FRONT-ROW RECRUIT Lee Jewitt is looking to make his mark in Super League after an impressive Castleford Tigers debut.
Jewitt, 27, was one of Tigers’ substitutes in the 50-12 Magic Weekend thrashing of Wakefield Trinity Wildcats at Manchester City’s Etihad Stadium two days ago.
The derby showdown opened a three-game afternoon played in front of a sun-kissed crowd of 28,214, taking the Magic Weekend total attendance to a record 64,552.
It was Tigers’ second successive Magic victory over Wakefield, following a 49-24 triumph a year ago and Jewitt relished getting his first opportunity in front of such a big crowd.
“I could not have asked for a better stage,” the prop-forward admitted. “It was good and it was good to get a win as well.
“There’s quite a few things I need to work on. I am just trying to get back into the swing of it, that’s the main thing.
“Overall I was pleased, but I know there’s a lot of work needs doing.”
Jewitt arrived at Castleford by an unusual route. He began his first-team career at Wigan in 2005 and then played for Salford from 2007 to the end of last year.
He moved to Limoux and was then snapped up by Tigers – after injuries to Ryan Boyle and Nathan Massey left them light in the front-row – at the end of the French domestic season.
“It is good to be back in Super League,” he said. “Being away for a while has probably refreshed me.
“It has given me a new love for the game, because I was kind of stuck in a rut before. But now with Daryl (coach Daryl Powell) and the boys it is a real good culture at the club and I’m happy to be here.”
Of his French experience, Jewitt said: “It was good. It was different, obviously the quality of rugby wasn’t as good, but overall it was an experience for me and my family and for me it gave me that love for the game again.”
Jewitt, who was a target for Powell at the end of last season, has been at Castleford a couple of weeks and said he has no doubt it was the right move.
“I have just slotted in,” he stated. “The team and the coaching staff, they are all singing from the same hymn sheet.
“If you come in and get your head down and get stuck in and buy into the culture, you slot straight in.
“That’s what I’ve done. I have come with an open mind and I have loved every minute of it.
“I don’t think it will take me long to get up to speed.
“I think once I get some game time under my belt and I start knowing the moves a little bit better and knowing where they want me, that’ll be fine.
“At the moment I am pleased with the way it is going.”
Familiarity with some of Tigers’ players has helped. Jewitt added: “I know Ryan Boyle, Marc Sneyd and Ashley Gibson from Salford and the others from playing against them.”
Sneyd’s performance against Wakefield, when he scored two tries and kicked seven goals, was one of the most eye-catching of the Magic Weekend.
Sneyd is on a season-long loan from Salford and Tigers are hoping to agree a deal to keep him on a permanent basis, though Red Devils’ management have made it clear they want him back.
The stand-off has been a revelation this year, but not to Jewitt. “He has always had something,” said the front-rower.
“He just needed to be given that chance. Coming here has been an absolute God-send for him. He has stood up and been counted.”
It is a good time to have joined Tigers, who are set for their best season in more than a decade.
“They are on the up,” Jewitt said. “You can see that in the confidence they are playing with.
“I have been watching them for the last couple of weeks and you can see it in them.
“They are oozing with confidence and it is nice to be part of that.”
Tigers – many pundits’ tip to be involved in a relegation fight this year – are third on the table going into the second half of the season and Jewitt is convinced they can stay there for the rest of the campaign.
“I don’t think there’s any doubt about that, at all” he said.
“When you see the way we are preparing and the way we are hungry and how much we want this, it is good for the club and good for the town.
“Daryl has been fantastic, especially with his man-management skills. I have only been here two weeks, but you can see straight away the way the boys respect him.
“That’s probably the biggest thing, if you respect your coach it goes a long way.
“Everyone respects him. Before I even came to the club everyone sang his praises, so I am really happy here.”
Powell returned the compliment, by hailing Jewitt’s performance against Wildcats.
Of his recruit’s debut, the coach said: “He was very good.
“I was really pleased with him. I thought he carried the ball strong and he gave an offload that helped us get a try on the next play. He is a great bloke, he has fitted in so neatly and I thought it was a real quality first game from him.”
Tigers’ next game is at home on Sunday to Widnes Vikings, who are sixth.