Castleford Tigers have announced a new two-year deal for Joe Westerman, who will end his career at the Jungle having already made over 150 appearances for his boyhood club.
The forward, 33, first linked up with the Tigers back in 2007 and had a huge impact in his debut season as they gained promotion up from the Championship.
Departing for Hull FC after 103 appearances in 2011, Westerman also pulled on a shirt for Warrington Wolves, Toronto Wolfpack and Wakefield Trinity before returning to the Jungle ahead of the 2022 campaign.
And having been chosen as the Player of the Year and Players’ Player of the Year both last term and this, racking up another 51 appearances, he’s now put pen to paper on a new contract which will see him remain with Cas until the end of his career.
Joe Westerman commits rest of career to Castleford Tigers
The 33-year-old – who is closing down on 50 tries for the Tigers – told their club website there was never any doubt over whether he’d re-sign.
He said: “I always wanted to end my career at Cas, it’s something that’s really close to me and I’ve been a Cas supporter since I was about 6 years old. I love the club, I want to play my best rugby here, and do my best to take Cas as far as I can
“We’ve just got to set some standards and get the lads all on board, and buying into the Cas way. I think that next year is massive.
“Cas aren’t meant to be at the bottom of the table and it is not good for us as a playing group to be down there, so I think it’s a new start next year.”
Club Director address hypocrisy in Westerman new deal when wanting to ‘lower age profile’ of squad
Two-time England international Westerman’s re-signing now means that the Tigers have just three off-contract players whose futures remain unclear.
Earlier this month, director Danny Wilson said they’d let older heads go – like Greg Eden and Suaia Matagi – as they wanted to lower the age profile of the squad. But having kept stalwart Westerman around for the next two years, he believes the player can still be a big part in their future.
Wilson added: “As a person, he’s Castleford through and through. He wears his heart on his sleeve when he plays, and he’s been our best player for the last 2 years. He’s an emotional kid.
“We spoke quite a lot openly about where we want to take the squad and the profile of the squad and lower that average age, but you do need some experienced players in that squad, and certainly the ones that reflect the personality of Castleford.
“I think Westy does that. He wears his passion for the club on his shirt when he plays. He wants to be part of this rebuild and how we take the club forward, and spoke quite passionately about that.
“We’re really happy that he’s staying for the next couple of years and is a big part of what we will be doing moving forward.”