Castleford Tigers: Mixed emotions at end of an ‘overwhelming’ week

Castleford's Jake Webster.
Castleford's Jake Webster.
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GRAND FINAL defeat came at the end of the most memorable week of Castleford Tigers ace Jake Webster’s life, but he is able to keep things in perspective.

Webster played for Tigers in Saturday’s big-game loss to Leeds Rhinos just days after the birth of his first child.

Ryan Hall passes the ball to Matt Parcell as Jake Webster tackles him during the Grand Final.

Ryan Hall passes the ball to Matt Parcell as Jake Webster tackles him during the Grand Final.

A win would have been the icing on the cake, but his new family meant the former New Zealand Test centre could put the disappointment behind him as soon as he got away from Old Trafford.

“I am going home to the best thing that could possibly happen,” Webster said in the wake of Tigers’ 24-6 defeat.

“I am still heartbroken about it [the result], but everything is put into perspective.

“I have got a baby boy, I have wanted one my whole life, now I have got him and he’s gorgeous and I can’t wait to see him.”

Webster and partner Misha Roby have yet to decide on a name for the new arrival.

He said: “We are thinking about a couple, but at the moment we just call him JJ – Jake Junior or Baby Jake.

“We’ll come up with a name in the next few days.”

Webster will be mulling over the on-field events of last weekend during the sleepless nights ahead.

The inquests into Tigers’ defeat are set to continue until the start of pre-season and beyond, but Webster believes it boils down to them being well below their high standards and Rhinos taking full advantage.

Castleford made eight errors in the first half and though they were only seven points adrift at the break, 10 more in the final 40 minutes of the season left them with no way back.

“We got outplayed on the day,” Webster accepted.

“They handled the conditions better and handled the occasion better.

“I think it was the worst we’ve played and we got what we deserved. At half-time we still thought we had it in us, but you can’t win a game with that many errors.

“I don’t think there was any one key moment, but we kept dropping the ball on the first and second tackle. No one’s ever going to win a game playing like that.”

Tigers have already been made favourites to win the 2018 Grand Final. That is recognition of an outstanding campaign which ended with them 10 points clear at the top of the Betfred Super League table.

The Grand Final was only their sixth defeat in 34 competitive games and with the majority of the squad remaining in place next year, they are fancied to go one better. Rhinos’ Grand Final debut ended in defeat, to Wigan Warriors in the inaugural event 19 years ago.

They were victors the next time they played at Old Trafford, in 2004 and have won the title eight times in 14 seasons.

Webster is not a believer in the cliche ‘you have to lose a final to win one’, but feels Tigers will be better for the experience of last week’s build-up and the game itself.

“That’s what everyone says, but it’s not true,” he insisted. “We had everything we needed to win that game, but credit to Leeds – they did the job.

“They have been there plenty of times before and they know how to handle the occasion. We just got overwhelmed, but we will learn from that.”