Cas recruit Crooks open to possible NRL return

Castleford threequarter Ben Crooks has acknowledged that he would one day like to play in the NRL again, should the chance arise.

But the 22-year-old, son of Cas and Hull FC legend Lee Crooks, is keen to win things with the Tigers too.

The former Hull player has returned from a spell with Parramatta Eels in Australia, after failing to break into the club’s NRL team.

Nevetheless, he enjoyed his time Down Under, and feels that he learned a lot from the experience.

“It was really good, me and my partner both fitted in really well,” he told Love Rugby League.

“Rugby-wise, I picked up a lot of stuff, and I learned a lot about myself as a player, like where I can improve.

“It wasn’t a massive failure for me. Things didn’t come to fruition for playing in the NRL, which was obviously the main goal.

“But that’s why I’ve come back to Castleford, when things weren’t working out.

“If the opportunity comes again, you never know, I might end up going back.”

Crooks spent most of his time on the field in Australia with NSW Cup team Wentworthville Magpies, which was an experience he thoroughly enjoyed.

“It was good, with a great set of lads,” he said.

“I was the new boy going in, and they treated me really well.

“Rugby league is a great family sport, there’s families looking out and looking in, but also it’s a family sport within the team.

“You’re just one big family and you wany everyone to enjoy what they’re doing, so it was great, really enjoyable.”

When the chance to came to play for the Tigers, Crooks jumped at it, though, not least because of his deep personal connection to the West Yorkshire outfit.

“The club is on the up,” he said.

“They’ve got the approval for the new stadium, and Daryl Powell is a great coach.

“There were a lot of key factors which drew me back to Cas.

“It sort of happened towards the back end of last season, and when the opportunity came, I thought it was the right club at the right time.

“I was a big Castleford supporter as a kid.

“They were my hometown club so I used to come down and watch them all the time.

“Me now coming to play here is something really special.”

The prospect of perhaps winning something with his hometown club was also a strong lure for Crooks to return to Yorkshire, and he believes a top-two finish is possible for the Tigers in 2016.

“I think that’s achievable,” he said.

“They’ve been there or thereabouts the last couple of years, and I think there’s a bit of an expectation for us to go out and win some silverware this year.

“We believe as a team that we can do it, so it would be great to go out there and win some silverware with Cas.”

One team Crooks is looking forward to playing is Hull FC, despite his leaving there under something of a cloud when he went to Australia ahead of the 2015 campaign.

“I had a quick look as to where it was on the fixture list!” he grinned.

“But I’m really looking forward to going back to the KC Stadium, the opportunity comes.

“They’re a great set of fans, and they’re a great club.

“I spent a lot of time there, so going back will be pretty special.

“I wouldn’t like to be booed, but if it happened, I’d take it with a smile and a grin.

“I’ve got no hard feelings towards the club.”

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