New boy Matt Cook is already enjoying life with Castleford Tigers after heading back up north following his stint playing for London Broncos.
The 28-year-old back row forward or prop knew what to expect after spending a month on loan at Castleford in 2008 and says it has also helped him settle in easily with plenty of familiar faces around.
Several of his former team-mates at London, Hull KR and Bradford are now with the Tigers, helping make it a home from home for a player who was an England international as a youngster.
“This is the fourth week now and I’m getting used to things and settling in nicely,” Cook told the Express.
“All the boys have made me feel welcome. There’s quite a few new faces there anyway, but the ones who were already at the club are helping me settle in. They are a good set of lads and I’m really enjoying it.
“It helps when you join a new team that there’s a few of your old team-mates. There’s a couple who’ve come up this year with me and there’s a couple who were at London the year before who were already at Cas so it’s nice.
“There’s also a few players I knew from my time at Hull KR and Bradford. So I’ve known a fair few of the lads before I started and it hasn’t been too bad trying to get know everyone.
“Everyone’s really friendly at the club, even the staff members who are not part of the coaching staff that you see dotted round the club have been nice and warming.
“There’s a few things still familiar to me from my time on loan at the club many moons ago so I kind of know my way round the club already.
“I’m also enjoying the area and enjoying going to Xscape with the boys after training for coffees and getting into the community, seeing the town.
“I’m getting to know the area pretty well and it’s great that everyone’s so welcoming.”
Cook is getting stuck into pre-season training and pleased with the way things have gone so far.
He said: “The training’s been good. It’s been tough, as all pre-seasons are with long days. You set off in the morning in the dark and get home in the dark.
“The conditioner Ben Cooper gets hold of you and likes to get the best out of you.
“The training is intense with the fitness, the weights and then all the skills as well. I’m enjoying it, but it’s been tough so far.
“Hopefully I’d like to think I’ve improved skills wise a little bit already in the short space of time.
“Cas being a big attacking team in the past the skills are very important, being able to move the ball around and things like that.
“I’ve had to sharpen up my handling skills a little bit and hopefully it’s set me in good stead.”
Cook is not sure yet whether he will be making his second Cas debut in the first of the pre-season warm-ups at Featherstone Rovers.
He said: “We’ve not spoken yet about which of the friendlies I’ll be playing in. Everyone’s just worrying about day by day at the moment and then an Army camp coming up before thinking of any of the pre-season games.
“I’m bracing myself for the Army camp and it will be pretty tough. The boys said it was hard last year as the Army lot always try and break you, but it’s very good for team bonding and the camaraderie. So it’s something to look forward to, but also dread at the same time.”
Cook is living in Warrington for most of the week since moving back up north, but plans to move to the Castleford area when the opportunity arises.
He added: “With my wife I’ve moved in with family temporarily in Warrington where I grew up, but a few nights of the week at the moment I’m staying with a few of the lads in a little place just up the road in Kippax.
“Hopefully we can find somewhere in the Castleford area to buy a property in the near future.”