Castleford have loaned centre Ben Crooks to Leigh on a one-year deal until the end of November 2017.
Crooks will join up with Neil Jukes’ squad for pre season training and has no restrictions in his deal, enabling him to be available for the Centurions’ eagerly-awaited Betfred Super League Round One game against Castleford Tigers at The Mend-A- Hose Jungle on Friday 10th February.
Leigh Centurions Head Coach Neil Jukes said: “I am delighted to secure Ben’s services for the forthcoming season. He is a young, talented and athletic player with his best years ahead of him and has already packed a great deal into his career.
“The coaching staff identified Ben as a perfect fit for our model and when Castleford gave us permission to speak to him we outlined the challenges we face and the ambitions we have for our club and how we saw his role.
“Ben was persuaded to join us and the very fact that a player of his ability feels he can achieve his ambitions at Leigh Centurions is testament to the way our club has developed over the past year.
“Even though things may not have worked out as he intended I am sure the experience will have made him a better player.
“He came back to England to become a key player in Daryl Powell’s talented squad at Castleford during the last season and he greatly adds to the strength of our squad as we prepare for the new season.
“All of the coaching staff are excited at the prospect of working with him.
“I’d like to thank Daryl Powell and everyone at Castleford and also Ben’s agent David Howes for their assistance in this loan arrangement.”
Leigh Centurions Owner Derek Beaumont said: “I am really pleased to get Ben on board and I would like to thank Castleford for their assistance with this. We needed a quality addition to our centres and this is exactly that.
“Ben was outstanding at Hull where he made the Super League Dream Team.
“I was really excited by him before he went to Australia before returning to play a significant number of games for Cas last season.
“He is a big lad with lots of skill and I know our coaching team are looking forward to working with him.
“He is relishing the challenge we face and is another proven Super League player that brings a wealth of experience to the group.
“I know he will enjoy his time with us and be a positive acquisition to a squad that is now nearing completion.
“It is yet another indication of our intentions and ability to continue to improve our group. I am looking forward to seeing Ben meet the challenge head on.”
Crooks, 23, scored six tries and kicked one goal in 28 appearances for the Tigers as they finished fifth in Super League in 2016 and is contracted until November 2018.
The son of former Hull FC, Leeds and Castleford international forward Lee Crooks and nephew of former Castleford international forward Steve ‘Knocker’ Norton, Ben comes from rich Rugby League stock and like both his famous relatives tried his luck in the NRL, signing for Parramatta Eels in September 2014 before returning to England.
After emerging through their academy ranks, he made his Super League debut for Hull FC in 2012 and in the following season was chosen for the Dream Team after scoring 20 tries in 22 games and forming a prolific partnership with Tom Lineham.