‘Rocky’ aiming to be a half-back star for Castleford

Ryan Hampshire
Ryan Hampshire

New recruit Ryan Hampshire will put past loyalties to one side as he aims to have a big season with Castleford Tigers in 2016.

Hampshire, who has arrived on a year-long loan deal from Wigan Warriors, admits to being a keen Wakefield Wildcats fan as a youngster.

But he will now be on the other side of the West Yorkshire divide in a Tigers shirt and is determined to show Cas fans that the fact he used to be on the terraces shouting for the Wildcats will not prevent him giving his all for his new club.

The highly rated 21-year-old, nicknamed ‘Rocky’, is also looking forward to playing against parent club Wigan with no stipulations in his deal preventing him from taking the field against the Warriors.

He told the Express: “I am allowed to play against Wigan and I can’t wait for those games with the chance to go up against my old team-mates there. It will be weird, but something I’m looking forward to.

“I’m also looking forward to the derbies with Castleford. It’s not far where I’m from so I am well aware of the rivalries.

“I was a Wakey fan growing up so I’m used to being in that Wakey end. But putting that aside, I have to be professional and do my best for Cas now and that’s what I will do.

“I’m used to seeing it from the other side, but I’m looking forward to playing with the Cas fans on my side. It’s usually a great atmosphere at the ground and one thing I really like is playing in front of passionate fans.

“I’ve been one of those fans in my time so I know what it means to people to support their team.”

Hampshire explained that it was a chance to gain more experience that was behind his loan move for 2016, but he also reckons he has joined a team challenging for honours.

He said: “My personal aim for the season is first to play every week. But I want to win something as well.

“I’ve been involved in Wigan squads, but haven’t managed to play in a final and why not with Cas?

“Cas are definitely ready to take that extra step. I played in the Challenge Cup quarter-final when they beat Wigan a couple of years ago and went on to the final and they did well again last year.”

Hampshire will play anywhere asked of him by head coach Daryl Powell, but wants to make a mark at half-back.

He added: “I’ve played that all my career and played a few games for Wigan there. If I’m going to be the best player I can be it will be at half-back.

“Obviously if Daryl says to me ‘we need you at full-back this week’ then no problem, I enjoy playing there and will happily do so.

“When we met Daryl said ‘I know you want to play half’ and that’s why he brought me here. It will be a good experience for me and there’s some good people to learn off.

“It’s good competition, there’s four of us up for the half-back roles and it will be interesting to see what happens.

“I think Tom Holmes made his debut last year and he will be wanting more games and has been pushing everyone. Then you’ve got the more experienced guys so I need to perform.

“I’m definitely looking forward to teaming up with Luke Gale after the way he played last year. When you’ve got another half-back that’s playing so well then you’ve got to be playing well as well. Bringing the best out of each other can only be good.

“Ben Roberts is an experienced player and a really powerful player so I’m learning stuff off him and playing in the same side will be good.

“Marc Sneyd made an impact when he had a year loan at Cas and I’d like to do the same. Anything can happen.”