YOUNG outside back James Clare enjoyed a dream birthday when he celebrated his late call-up to the Castleford Tigers team with a try against Widnes Vikings on Saturday.
Clare earned praise for his performance from temporary head coach Danny Orr and was delighted to finish on the winning side with the Tigers triumphing 28-26.
He described scoring the opening try was “the best feeling ever” and it was all the more special as it came on Clare’s 22nd birthday.
He said: “Scoring the first try and getting the win is probably the best birthday present ever.
“It was a moment that went that quick that I didn’t know what to do, who to celebrate with or what to say.
“It filled me with butterflies and it’s the best feeling ever.
“It’s a massive result for us; it almost feels like it’s the start of a new season. We felt it before the game and it’s nice to get off to a winning start in that sense.
“You obviously never know when you’re going to win, but when you do get that it’s probably the best feeling ever. You celebrate like you’ve just won the Grand Final even though it’s just one Super League game.
“Before the game we went in with so much confidence - Danny has brought back so much fun in the game and we just played to enjoy ourselves and played for Cas.
“We talked about being in the game at half-time - the last three or four games we’ve been 30 points down at that stage. We talked about putting pressure on them and enjoying the game and playing with pride and passion for Cas.
“There were a few scratchy bits, a few nail biters too; obviously we got a little bit of luck with Patrick Ah Van missing his kick at the end but it’s an unbelievable feeling.”
Clare felt happy with how he played but knows that he must continue to work hard in training to earn another opportunity and take it when it comes.
He added: “It’s hard to judge your own performance, but I know that I came off the field and absolutely loved it – I enjoyed myself.
“I’ve got a lot of competition with Justin Carney and Kirk Dixon so I know that I’ve just got to keep on doing what I’m doing, keep on enjoying it and remain hopeful of getting a chance.”
Orr was pleased with a much improved display from Clare after he had endured difficult games on his previous two starts against Hull and St Helens.
He said: “James, or Sticks as we call him, has come in for a bit of criticism and made a few errors here and there, he knows that, but I thought he was one of our best players. It was an outstanding performance from a young kid. I was really pleased for him.”