After growing up as a Castleford Tigers fan Greg Eden cannot wait to return to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle as a fully fledged senior player tomorrow night.
Eden, who looks set to start on the wing after impressing in the role in the pre-season games, is thrilled at the prospect of a full house for his first Super League game back at the club with tickets selling in big numbers for the visit of Leigh.
He is no stranger to having the backing of vociferous Cas fans, having made three appearances as a youngster in 2011 after coming through the Tigers academy. But being away has made him appreciate the support that comes from the very terraces he once stood as a boy.
“I have missed playing here,” said Eden. “I’ve always been a Cas supporter and as a kid I used to stand in the corner at the Wheldon Road end.
“I’ve always had a soft spot for Castleford and I’m just glad I got the chance to come back. With it being my first game back down at Cas on Friday I am pretty excited about it.
“It’s always a good atmosphere and it should be a packed house. With it being the first game everyone will be a bit giddy and wanting to get back down here.
“The stadium’s not changed much since I was last here, just a few upgrades, but the club has come on miles in the way it’s run and we’ve got a lot stronger team. With Daryl around he’s helping kids stick around and we’ve got a lot of top players.”
Castleford have been tipped to do well this year and Eden believes they can prove the pundits right.
He said: “I think everyone’s pretty confident and we all believe we are better than the team was this time last year.
“If that comes off and everyone’s thinking correctly it should be an exciting year for us.”
Eden says the Tigers are not taking opening opponents Leigh lightly as they will be keen to make an impression in their first game since promotion.
He warned: “They are going to come out all guns blazing with it being their first game back up in Super League.
“We are expecting quite a lot from them. It depends how they gel as a new team, but we have to keep composed and stick in through the tough battle we know we’re going to get.
“We’ve watched them on video and they’ve looked pretty good in the pre-season friendlies. We’ve got key areas we’re looking for, but we’ll keep that for the game.
“They are going to want to show everyone what they’re made of and why they’ve been promoted so it should be a good test for us.”
Eden knows he faces big competition to play in his preferred full-back position, but is happy in any position he is picked in.
He explained: “I prefer to play full-back, but we’ve got such strong competition at this club, there’s three good players all fighting for that spot.
“If there’s a couple of injuries one of us will step in there, but until that happens I am happy to play elsewhere. It is not really a bad thing playing on the wing, it’s just not my preferred position, but I am happy doing either-or.”
Training and pre-season has gone well for the Tigers, according to Eden.
He added: “The training pitch is a bit boggy with the rain we’ve had, but we’ve been getting some good sessions in on the 4G up at Cas Academy.
“I think all the boys are ready for the season to kick off.
“We’ve been quite happy with the way the pre-season games have gone. There’s a few things we can work on, but leading into the season we’ve got some good stead in the pre-season games.
“With us being such a good attacking team that kind of comes naturally so most of pre-season we’ve been working on defence. Hopefully we can level them both out and be strong all round the field.
“We nearly held St Helens scoreless until that last couple of minutes so that was a pretty good effort defensively and Wakefield before that in the first half I think we kept them nearly scoreless as well. So if we cam keep that going into the season we have a good chance.”