JY HITCHCOX believes his stint in the Championship with Featherstone Rovers is the perfect building block for Super League life at Castleford Tigers.
The Australian utility-back recently flew back to the UK from Sydney to take up a one-year deal with Daryl Powell’s side.
He had spent last season with their neighbours Featherstone Rovers on a part-time deal, scoring 11 tries in 25 appearances, but the Castleford head coach feels he has the ability to now step up.
Hitchcox admitted: “I spoke with Daryl on a couple of occasions about what I could bring to the table as a player, and it seemed like a really good place to be.
“I’ve heard a lot of good things about Daryl and the club so it was a pretty easy decision to make.
“Super League was always my personal goal, but I was just hoping to play as well as I could in the Championship first and foremost before making the step up to Super League and getting the call.
“That year should stand me in good stead for having a crack at Super League; it’s obviously a little bit different around the ruck and the speed is a bit different to Championship rugby, but I’m learning every day and hopefully I’ll be ready.”
Hitchcox was on the books of Melbourne Storm earlier in his career and played a handful of NRL games for Wests Tigers.
With his pace and elusiveness, Powell hopes he could be a surprise hit in the top flight and says he “beats players for fun” with his footwork.
“I’ll take than,” smiled the 26-year-old.
“I’m here to bring a bit of speed around the ruck I think.
“I’ll bring some experience and hopefully I can add something to the team.
“I see myself as being any part of the puzzle Daryl is trying to put together; I’m happy at wing, centre or full-back, I don’t mind.
“I’ve settled in really well. All the boys have been really welcoming and there’s a real good vibe amongst the group, a hunger to do really well in 2016 and it’s already shaping up to look like a really good year for us boys.”
Hitchcox obviously knows the area well having played for Castleford’s neighbours.
“I’m still only five minutes down the road – I’m closer to Cas than anywhere else – so it’s been really easy settling in,” he said, while believing Tigers can challenge for honours in the coming campaign.
“They’re going good; they just missed out on the top four last year and I think if we knuckle down and perform like I know we can then that’s definitely an achievable goal for us next year.
“I’m not sure about the gap between the divisions but I’m expecting it to be just as physical.
“And I’ve been learning a lot from Dorny (Luke Dorn) and Shenny (Michael Shenton) which has worked wonders for me.”