HE HAS moved from a team fighting for honours on two fronts to one battling to avoid the drop, but Richard Owen is convinced his switch from Castleford Tigers to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats was the right move.
Owen, 24, spent seven seasons in Tigers’ first team, but has had to play a fringe role for the past couple of years and saw the move to Wildcats as a way of reviving his career.
He has played in Wakefield’s last three matches, including the 18-10 win over London Broncos four days ago and said the transfer – effectively a loan until the end of the season – has given him a new lease of life.
“It is good here,” Owen said. “They are all a good set of lads and I have settled in really well. It is a good club and it’s one of those things – it had to be done and it has given me the game time I needed.”
Explaining the reasoning behind the switch of clubs, Owen added: “I think I needed a change. I got a bit in my comfort zone at Cas.
“I thought I was playing well when I played, but I just didn’t get the opportunities I wanted.
“Wakefield came in for me, so it is a good thing for me. It was one of those things at Cas – I was playing and I was scoring, then I was out for a couple of weeks, back in and scored, then back out for another couple of weeks.
“I just want consistency and to be getting game time and Wakefield offered me that.”
Owen is understood to have the option of a three-year deal at Wakefield, beginning next season, but insisted no long-term decisions have been made on his future.
“I don’t know yet,” he said. “I am on loan until the end of the season and we’ll see what happens from there.
“I have got another year left at Cas, but we will see what happens.”
The victory against London was Owen’s first win as a Wakefield player and came in appalling conditions, as a cloud burst at the start of the game left standing water on the pitch and parts of the terracing flooded.
“It was mad,” Owen said. “We warmed up and it was red hot, then we came out five minutes later and it was a monsoon.
“It’s just one of those things – you have to adapt to it and play the game, which I didn’t think we did in the first half.
“We went in at half-time and Webbo (coach James Webster) had a good word with us and I think we turned it round in the second had.”
Wildcats trailed 10-4 at the interval, having been outplayed for most of the first period. They stepped up a gear and dominated after half time, though they didn’t get on level terms until the final quarter.
“We were shocking in the first half and we didn’t play the conditions, but we were better in the second half and we got the win in the end,” Owen reflected.
“It was an important one for us. We were expected to win and it was one we needed to win.
“It has done us a world of good. It was a boost for us and it was just what we needed.”
Victory over London was the perfect start to new boss James Webster’s coaching career, in his debut game as coach after taking over from Richard Agar.
“Not much has changed,” Owen said of the new regime. “It is all the same structures and things like that.
“Webbo has been really good. He has been there and done it and he had a few years under Rich as well.
“He is doing well and it was good to get a first win for him.Hopefully we can kick on now. Webbo put the hours in last week and I think it showed with how we played in the second half.
“Hopefully we will get a few wins here and there and we will climb up the table. We are on the tails of Salford and teams like that now.
“If we can get a few wins everyone’s happy, the fans start getting back on your side and you can sneak up there.
“We are the dark horses at the minute and I think the ball’s in our court. It wasn’t the best on Friday, but a win’s a win.
“You get in that mentality and it is harder to lose than it is to win. Hopefully we can get a few wins together now.”
Meanwhile, academy winger Tom Johnstone has his sights set on a first team debut after signing a full-time deal for the 2015 season.
The 18-year old former Stanningley junior said: “Ever since I was a little kid and started playing rugby it’s all I’ve ever wanted to do. Finally I’ve got there and I couldn’t be happier.
“I’m going to try and get my head down, get some serious training in, fight towards that Super League debut and hopefully get a couple of appearances in next season.”
Webster sees Johnstone as a potential future star.
He said: “From when Tom first turned up at the club his improvement physically has been outstanding.
“He’s an athlete, is really quick and his performances in the under-19s this year have warranted him getting a contract with us as a first team.
“It’s important for us as a club that we produce some home-grown players and Tom is probably the first one at that top end of the under-19’s at the moment that warrants a contract.
“I’m happy for Tom as he’d a good kid and hopefully he’ll progress really well.”
Seven of the current 2014 first team squad at Wakefield have come through Wildcats’ academy.