Castleford Tigers centre Jake Webster admits he is enjoying being a senior figure at the club and thriving on the extra responsibility he has these days.
With captain and fellow centre Michael Shenton out injured all last year Webster stepped up to the plate as one of the senior men in the back division and with his record of 14 tries in 23 appearances he enjoyed possibly his best season in a Castleford shirt.
He is now hoping to continue to be a key player for the Tigers as they look to improve on their fifth place finishes of the last two years.
He said: “I am happy with the way I went for the club last year, especially with the added pressure of being the more senior centre.
“When we lost our captain there was a bit more pressure on me.
“To work with Galey was a bit of a positive for me as well - he helped my game a lot - and also with Denny who has now moved on. It was a great year all-round for our whole side, especially with the injuries we had. It is something we’ve got to build on.
“My role is as a senior figure now. It will keep me in the game a lot longer than if I wasn’t sort of a mentor. It is bringing the young fellas through.
“I had someone - Matt Geyer - who did that for me when I was coming through at Melbourne and it does help a lot.
“He was a winger, but he taught me the ways of first team training and how your attitude had to be. That was a real big help and if I can do that at a great club like Cas I will be happy with that.”
At 33 Webster is feeling as fit as he has ever done and he has come through pre-season training injury free and ready for the battles ahead.
He said: “I’ve felt great at training and I feel like I’m a young kid again.
“Hopefully I’ll have a great start to the year and if my body keeps going all right I’ll be around for a few more years to come.
“I am on a year-to-year contract at the moment, with my age. I’m not sure how sure my body is going to handle pre-season every year, but this year my body has been really, really good.”
Webster believes he can be part of a Castleford team challenging for honours this year.
He added: “It’s been a great break we’ve had after a tough year last year and everyone’s come back in great shape and really excited about the forthcoming year.
“It is going to be a very tough season. We’ve seen the schedule and there’s a few very short turnarounds, more than last year, so the whole squad’s going to have to be ready to go.
“I think the depth the coach has got is looking really, really good. The boys have trained really well and the young fellas who have stepped in haven’t looked out of place.
“As long as we can build on it and keep everybody fit and healthy, the ball’s in our court. If we perform the way we know we can I don’t see why we shouldn’t be in the running for some silverware.
“The top four is the bare minimum, you have to be in the top four to really have a crack at any silverware so that’s going to be our goal.”