JOE WARDLE readily accepts his younger brother Jake is already a better player than him – but that will not matter if they meet when Huddersfield Giants arrive at Wheldon Road on Thursday.
Wardle Snr, 26, is certainly no mug himself having won the 2013 League Leaders’ Shield with Huddersfield and played in the NRL with Newcastle Knights last year before joining Castleford Tigers.
But big things are expected of his talented sibling who, at 19, has made a breakthrough for Giants this term, scoring twice on debut against Widnes Vikings in June.
Wardle admitted: “He is (better than me). We’re two different types of players but he’s definitely a more natural kid.
“He killed it on that debut. He had everything – two tries and sin-binned. He is a good lad and he really knuckles down and looks after himself. He’s a proper athlete even at that young age so he deserves it. I’m proud of him.”
Jake Wardle has played three games this term, getting another chance with Leroy Cudjoe missing and scoring again in Friday’s 26-24 loss at Warrington Wolves.
He is a good lad and he really knuckles down and looks after himself. He’s a proper athlete even at that young age so he deserves it. I’m proud of him.Joe Wardle on younger brother Joe
He played left centre and, with his elder brother switched from back-row to right centre at Castleford in recent games, the Halifax-born pair could be in direct opposition this week.
Wardle added: “It could happen. Obviously it depends on a few things but it’d be really nice if I did get to play Jake.
“When we’re at home he’s always saying ‘I’d have you’ and, to be fair, skills-wise he probably would. But I’d just go out there to smash him and play dirty!
“He’s always around at our house. It’s like having having three kids instead of two. He just scavenges off me.”
While Castleford confirmed their top-four place with Friday’s 28-8 win at Hull FC, Huddersfield saw their faint hopes of reaching the semi-finals finally ended by Warrington.
However, they had been bottom in May before mounting a remarkable resurgence under Simon Woolford, the Australian who was an assistant coach at Newcastle when Wardle was there last term.
“I did have Germ (Woolford) at Knights and he is a really good fella,” admitted the player, who scored 58 tries in 125 Super League appearances for the Giants before heading to Australia.
“Obviously Giants were in a bit of a puddle earlier in the year until he came in.
“It’s good to see them bounce back. He’s come in and give a few of them a bit of a kick up the backside by the looks of it.
“It will be a really tough game on Thursday and they’re playing well, grinding a few teams out, so we have to be up there on point.
“But if we lead from the front again with our defence we can back ourselves again.”
Castleford’s defence was the most impressive aspect of their performance as they beat Hull to secure a third successive victory and strengthen their hold of third place with three Super 8s games remaining.
“I think defensively we’re really on point at the minute; we’re really getting stuck into teams, being aggressive and our contact is really nice and tight,” said Wardle, who may switch back to back-row with Oli Holmes suffering a hamstring injury.
“We’re definitely heading in the right direction in that sense but probably attack-wise we’ve some to work on.
“It probably didn’t show at the weekend but the ball was really wet and slippy. “They must have soaked the field wet-through beforehand and that probably affected the game quite a lot.
“We do need to get a little bit better with our attack. We all put our hands up with that at the minute.
“We’re not at the bar where we need to be setting ourselves. We have a couple of game now to hopefully get ready for that semi-final which looks like it will probably be Wigan.
“We just need to keep building but we’re definitely in a good spot.”