Rangi Chase is delighted to be back on the training field with Castleford Tigers after coming through some dark days in the last year when he admitted to falling out of love with rugby league.
Former Man of Steel Chase spoke openly about his battle with depression and how it led to him walking away from the game earlier this year following a troubled spell at Leigh.
But now he reckons he has now got all his enthusiasm back and returning to Castleford has made him feel “on top of the world”.
He said: “It was good to touch the ball again when I got back to training.
“I haven’t played so just passing the ball around is great.
“Your mind can tell you something and you think you can pass a 20-metre pass and it goes wonky. But it’s just good to do the little things again like touching the ball, getting a bit of contact and getting in and amongst the boys, the camaraderie around the changing room you miss.
“Right now I feel on top of the world, I just feel so happy.
“It’s hard to explain, but when you’ve been down in the dumps and you feel like the world is against you then you come through it, it’s an unbelievable feeling.
“You just feel strong. When you are in that dark place you feel weak, vulnerable and you have a lot of down days that is not nice.
“It’s not something that a lot of people talk about, but right now I feel awesome.”
Chase explained that it was only recently that he felt ready to return to the sport - but only if Castleford or a team in Australia were interested.
“It was only in the last two weeks that I thought I was ready to come back.
“If this opportunity had come up a month ago I would have said no because I wasn’t mentally ready.
“I didn’t want to put myself in a situation where I wasn’t 100 per cent and I didn’t want to let myself down or any other club down. I had to be ready.
“Just recently I started watching games, keeping my eye on Castleford and sort of picturing what I would do in that situation.
“I was getting the hunger back and it was just perfect timing.
“I’m very grateful to Castleford for giving me another chance here, I feel blessed and I feel I’ve been given another chance where most people would have turned their shoulder against me because I’ve got a bit of history.
“I haven’t really lived up to what I can do.
“It’s great to have another chance at a place that has a big place in my heart. I feel lucky.
“This year I was thinking step away from the game and concentrate on myself and my family.
“It was only going to be Cas or someone asking me to go back home if I was to play again. I’m lucky enough that Cas came knocking.
“I haven’t been happy with rugby, with the way things happened and I haven’t been enjoying playing, to be honest.
“I kept trying to pick myself up, try to toughen it out and be as happy as I could, but obviously that wasn’t to be so I stepped away from the game.
“I’ve had a think about things and it’s refreshed me, it’s done me the world of good.”
Chase continued: “I got to a point where I was going to dig holes if that’s what I had to do.
“I was going to take whatever job I needed to do.
“This year I was going to have completely off, but I have a young family to feed.
“Sometimes you need a break, sometimes emotions can get the better of you. I obviously needed time to think about things, which I have.
“I haven’t been in love with the game for a few years and you try and put your finger on what’s wrong. You try and get yourself up and keep going, but I did the right thing just to step away from it.
“It’s like I’ve got a new pair of eyes, a new head on my shoulders and I’m playing the game for the right reasons now.
“Money gets thrown at you and that gets appealing, you want to see what you can buy and see what you can do with the money.
“The opportunity came up here and it was purely about playing, there was nothing about what I could get material wise. It was about feeling that fire inside me again, it’s all about rugby league and coming here and enjoying.”
Chase believes he has rejoined a stronger Castleford team than the one he left.
He added: “A lot has changed, but at the same time it feels like a lot hasn’t.
“Obviously the squad’s a lot stronger.
“There’s a few different faces and some of the young lads from when I was here have come through.
“The culture’s a bit different and it looks like it’s a good culture. The team’s doing well, it just fell a little bit short in the last few games.
“There’s a lot of positives and a lot of things to be excited about.”