Moving forward - Cheyse Blair enjoying change of role at Grand Final-hopeful Castleford Tigers

Aussie Cheyse Blair is relishing getting stuck into his new role as a second-rower for Castleford Tigers.

Wednesday, 10th February 2021, 12:00 pm
Cheyse Blair on the attack for Tigers against Toronto last February. Picture by Tony Johnson.

Blair was a centre when he joined Tigers from Melbourne Storm two years ago, but now sees his future in the pack after playing there for much of last season.

The move was made semi-official last week when was awarded squad number 12, vacated by Mike McMeeken’s move to Catalans Dragons and Blair confirmed: “I am a forward now.”

He said: “It is something I am really enjoying.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Cheyse Blair is tackled during Tigers' win over St Helens last March. Picture by Tony Johnson.

“Powelly [coach Daryl Powell] mentioned it to me last pre-season, I have got the size and I like the role of back-rower.

“You have to get in there and make a lot more tackles and you get the ball a lot more than being in the centre.

“It is something I have come to enjoy, after being a back my whole career.”

The extra involvement in the pack appeals to Blair.

He added: “That’s the main thing. Sometimes if I am in the centres I go a bit missing because I can’t get the ball, but as a back-rower, pretty much the ball is coming to you all the time.”

The second-row is a position with plenty of depth in Tigers’ squad so Blair expects to have to fight for his place.

“There’s me, Oggy [Oliver Holmes], Jesse [Sene-Lefao] and Fozzy [Alex Foster] and a couple of middles who are training there as well,” he said.

“We are all pushing for spots, which is good as a squad. Last year we had a few injuries throughout the year so we lacked a bit of depth, but this year - in the outside-backs as well - everyone’s striving to be better.

“Who knows what the team will be like by round one?”

Tigers are now in their sixth week of pre-season and Blair is upbeat about their prospects for the year ahead.

“It has been tough; it has been cold, but I am enjoying it, building combinations and training hard,” he said training so far.

“We have had a few signings, JT [Jordan Turner] and Suaia Matagi will give us a bit of go-forward and we’ve all got dreams about what our goal is at the end of the year and that’s to be in the Grand Final and win some silverware, whether that’s the Grand Final or Challenge Cup. For me and as a club, we are striving for the Grand Final.”

Tigers were second in Betfred Super League before last March’s lockdown, but faded to eighth.

Blair recalled: “Those first five games before lockdown, we were flying. We were winning games of football in every department, we knocked St Helens over - which was a cracking game - and we beat Wigan as well. But then we didn’t know how to take it after the lockdown, we had a few players who were injured - including myself - and new rules came into the game, with no scrums.

“The game got sped up and we couldn’t do as much training as we wanted to in the off-season because of Covid, but that’s in the past now. We’ve moved on to this year and the boys are firing.”