Castleford Tigers forward Lee Jewitt is determined to have a big 2016 season to “repay” the club and its fans for the support given to him in tough times this year.
Jewitt missed the last four months of the 2015 campaign after the 14 weeks early premature birth of his twins left the babies fighting for their lives.
The player took time out of the game to stay with one of the boys while wife Rebecca stayed at the bedside of the other with twins Noah and Oliver in separate hospitals in Liverpool and Burnley,
Both Noah and Oliver are doing fine now and Lee is back on the rugby field after starting pre-season on time with his Castleford team-mates.
He told the Express: “Noah and Oliver are good, they are a lot better.
“The support from everyone was unbelievable and we appreciated all the good wishes and support from the fans and people at the club.
“I just want to repay this club and the fans. They have stood by me through a lot and have been great with me.
“For me my aim is to have a good season in 2016 and repay everyone for their support.”
Jewitt reckons the Tigers can also have a big season and be right up there challenging for honours.
He said: “We know what we want to do in 2016 – we want to finish in that top four and I know we can.
“It’s just about us all sticking together and it’s what Castleford are really good at, sticking together as a team.
“We’re all involved and it can help us go a long way.
“Fourth and fifth has been good in the last two years, but we want to be competing up there for silverware. We want to be in Challenge Cup finals and Grand Finals and we all feel the same. I think next year will be a really good year for us.
“We’ve got a good mixture, a couple of older blokes and quite a few young lads who’ve come in and took to it really well. We’ve got that nice balance with Lynchy at one end of the scale and me on the other end!
“We’ve got plenty of players competing for spots in the team and that’s what you want, healthy competition. You don’t want to come in to training knowing you are going to be in the squad week-in, week-out, no matter what.”
Jewitt said pre-season had been hard so far as he had expected, but at the same time it has also been enjoyable thanks to the programme devised by head coach Daryl Powell and strength and conditioning coach Ben Cooper.
He added: “It’s been tough so far in pre-season, but it’s been enjoyable. The coaches have been mixing things up and it’s not the same thing day in, day-out. All the boys are doing it with a smile on our faces.
“It’s always tough when you start again after six or seven weeks off. But if we can keep doing it with smiles on our faces it makes it that little bit easier.
“We’ve been doing a bit of everything. We’ve just finished a bit of strongman, obviously we’ve been doing weights, doing field work and hill sprints. It’s being mixed up really well.
“It’s not just down at the ground, we’ve been to the hills in Roundhay Park and on the 3G at the A1 Facility in Knottingley. It’s not just at the same venue, which helps keep things fresh.”