Featherstone Rovers welcome back Josh Hardcastle after club stalwart recovers from stroke: ‘I knew inside I’d play again’

Drew Darbyshire
Josh Hardcastle Featherstone Rovers Alamy

Josh Hardcastle in action for Featherstone Rovers in 2022 - Alamy

Featherstone Rovers stalwart Josh Hardcastle will continue his rugby league career in 2024 after making a full recovery from a stroke he suffered earlier this year.

The 31-year-old suffered a stroke in a shock collapse at his home in July, later admitting he feared ‘that could have been it’ as he lay in a hospital bed.

Hardcastle, who has played for Featherstone since 2017, has continued his recovery over the last four months and has been given the all clear by the specialists to continue his rugby league career.

The Pontefract-born centre will enter his eighth season with Featherstone in 2024 after signing a new contract, having scored 69 tries in 145 appearances during his time at Post Office Road so far.

“There’s been a question about whether or not I’d return to the field,” Hardcastle said as Rovers announced his re-signing.

“As a dad, I was always going to follow the medical advice, but I knew inside I’d play again.

“I’m grateful to the club, the fans, and the sport for their support in recent months, and now I’m ready to repay that faith.”

Featherstone Rovers ‘delighted’ to welcome back Josh Hardcastle for upcoming season

Featherstone coach James Ford paid tribute to Hardcastle, with the fan favourite set to lace up his boots again next year.

Ford said: “Everyone at Featherstone is delighted to see Josh return for the coming season.

“He’s demonstrated an outstanding level of resilience and desire to come back from two major setbacks and we’re all excited to help him along on his journey.

“Josh has proven he’s a top performer in this competition, and he’ll strengthen the team and squad across a number of positions.”

Rovers chief executive Martin Vickers added: “I’m extremely pleased to see Josh commit to the club, but more importantly, for Josh and his family to see him returning to fitness and good health.

“We will continue to give Josh all our support; we know what a valuable player he is in our team, a local lad who gives 100 per cent every game, and we can’t wait to have him back playing at the Millennium Stadium.”

READ NEXT: Featherstone Rovers star Josh Hardcastle feared it was ‘game over’ after suffering stroke