Recent recruit Ben Crooks is relishing the prospect of going back to his old stomping ground for the first time when he returns to Hull’s KC Stadium with his new Castleford Tigers team-mates tonight.
Crooks admitted the Hull FC game was first one he looked for when the fixture list was announced and he is hugely looking forward to returning to the ground where he initially made his name.
He said: “To go back to the KC so early and show what I can do is really exciting for me.
“There’s still a lot of the boys I grew up playing with over there so it’s going to be exciting for me to get out there and play against my friends rather than playing with them.
“I haven’t been back to the KC since I left and I am looking forward to it. It was the very first fixture I looked for.
“It’s good I can get it out of the way early in the season then I can just crack on and concentrate on the rest of the year.”
Crooks has no axe to grind on his return to Hull as he believes he left the club on good terms.
He said: “There’s no hard feelings between me or the club or the players so it will be great to get back out there.
“It wasn’t ideal the way it ended for me at Hull, but that’s the sport, it’s a business at the end of the day. We parted ways as friends.
“My form did fall away a bit at Hull and it was one of the things I wasn’t too happy about. That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come back to Super League because I know I’m a lot better player than I finished off playing in 2014.
“I had a great time in 2013 and everything came right for me, but it’s the sport, unfortunately you have blips in performance and I lost a lot of confidence the following year.
“I got to a stage when I was not enjoying my rugby or what I was doing and you can’t afford to not enjoy it because it makes turning up pointless.
“But now I’ve been away, I’ve been over to Australia, and I’m really enjoying my rugby again.
“I’m just looking forward to going over there and showing what kind of player I am.”
Crooks is unsure of the reception he will receive from the Hull fans, but he is looking forward to a great atmosphere at the KC Stadium and is obviously familiar with big nights at the ground.
He said: “I didn’t think I left on too bad a terms, but if I get a few boos I won’t take them to heart.
“The fans were great with me over there and I have a lot of respect for them.
“Hopefully I can get a couple of cheers rather than a lot of boos.
“I know their fans are going to turn up in numbers and I know ours will as well. As long as it’s a good atmosphere I’m not too bothered.”
Hull have started the season well and Crooks is expecting a tough battle for his team.
He said: “They’ve got a really big side this year and they’ve shown a lot of skill off the back of it.
“We didn’t get off to the greatest of starts at Hull KR, but we came out and showed what we could do against Wakefield. We’ve got to go out there and back it up now.
“It’s all about us, we haven’t focused too much on them.
“We know they are a big strong physical side and it’s going to be a hard battle for most of the game, but we’re confident we can go there and get the job done.”
Castleford have drawn one and won one so far and Crooks reckons the team is shaping up well.
He added: “We’ve just got to keep moving forward, each game at a time and keep improving the things we didn’t quite get right the week before.
“We seem to be doing that so far and we’ve just got to carry that into this week’s game.
“There’s more than a lot of confidence that we can give Hull a good game. We’ve got the utmost confidence we can go there and do a job.
“They’ve started off really well, but we reckon we can go over there and get the job done and that’s the main focus in our eyes.
“This year they’ve shown they have the same ambitions as us, they are going to be there or thereabouts at the end of the year. These tough teams you’ve got to be able to face them and battle through the entire game and come out on top otherwise you’re going to be struggling towards the back end.”