Back rower Alex Foster is still pinching himself about how well his season has gone since he took a chance of having a trial run with Castleford Tigers.
The former Featherstone Rovers and Leeds Rhinos player started the year wondering where his career was going and will end 2017 being part of a squad preparing to play in the Betfred Super League Grand Final.
Foster has certainly earned his opportunity with a series of hard working displays that have made him a regular starter and he played his part in the side’s thrilling semi-final victory over St Helens.
Foster was left without a club when Bradford Bulls – who he had joined from London Broncos at the end of last season – went into administration.
He signed initially on a trial basis with Castleford and had to overcome an injury before he could do any impressing, but eventually got the chance and has taken it with both hands - earning a two-year full-time contract.
From a nightmare it has become a dream year as Foster admits.
He said: “It has been unbelievable, I could never have envisioned it.
“Hats off to everyone at Cas, there’s been so much hard work going on behind the scenes by the coaches and the players have been training hard every day.
“The fans have been behind us every minute of this season.
“This club has made it happen for me and made it happen for everyone.
“Hopefully we can go one step further at the Grand Final.
Foster was in the starting line-up for the semi-final against St Helens and has now made 16 appearances for the Tigers, but is not taking his place in the team for the final for granted.
He said: “Oggy [Oliver Holmes] could be back this week and there’s a lot of players who have been pushing for places.
“For a lot of lads it’s going to be a nervous wait to see what the team is, but we’ve just got to keep on with what we are doing, train hard and try and get that spot.”
Foster is hoping to enjoy the build-up to the game as well as the Grand Final day experience, which began when the players made their first visit to Old Trafford today.
He added: “It’s very important to enjoy the week. I think if you start thinking about it too much you get anxious and nervous and the rest follows.
“This is a once in a lifetime chance, I might never play in a Grand Final again.
“Very few people play at Grand Finals, so all you can do is enjoy the experience and take it all in and do the best you can.
“There has been a lot of pressure thrown our way this season, with being the league leaders. I think we really need to go there and give it our best shot and come away with a win.
“Saying that, all the pressure is on our opponents because we are the top team this year and we have proved we can get ourselves out of sticky situations and play under pressure as well.”