DESPITE only completing his England duties last weekend Castleford Tigers’ Man of Steel 2011 Rangi Chase has launched himself straight into pre-season training with his club side.
While most of the other international players have been given a rest until the end of the year, Chase (pictured) returned to training at the Probiz Coliseum on Tuesday and is keen to get started with new head coach Ian Millward.
Castleford have come up with a plan to try to ensure their star half-back is not overburdened and are easing him back in at first.
Millward explained: “Normally when a player finishes internationals you like to give him until January off, but he had quite a while off between his last game for Cas and his first England game – I think it was about four weeks – so he’s going to come in when we do ball skills on Tuesdays and Fridays and he’ll also do some of the weights sessions.
“I think it’s important he gets in with the ball and he wants to get involved too. Obviously he’s very pivotal to what we are trying to achieve and it is good to have him coming in at this stage as the ball work is mainly about getting the guys used to how we want to play.
“I think he’s buzzing after playing for England – you only had to be at the ground on Saturday, the atmosphere was unbelievable.
“There’s a window after Christmas that he will have off so he won’t be playing on Boxing Day. There won’t be an issue of burnout later in the season as we’re managing him very carefully.”
Chase was unable to round off his first experience of the England set-up with victory in the final of the Gillette Four Nations Championship, but has vowed to put his new international experience to good use in the season ahead and has no objections to going straight back to training with the Tigers.
He told the Express: “I’m not going anywhere so I thought doing a couple of days a week back with Cas is not going to hurt.
“I won’t be doing as much as the boys because I’ve been away with England, but it’s mainly the rugby side of things and picking up on the team structures and things.
“I’m looking forward to working with Ian Millward. He’s really enthusiastic and it can only rub off on me and the rest of the players. As a new coach he’s got some different ideas and it will be good to see them in practice.”
Chase reckons he can benefit from playing alongside the best Super League players for the last five weeks and against the best in Australia at Wembley and last Saturday at Elland Road.
Although disappointed with the 30-8 defeat in the final and his own performance he enjoyed the experience and wants more next year.
He said: “It was probably the highlight of my career so far.
“It was good experience and good to be a part of. I would like to experience some more. I’ve had a taste of it now and the goal is to play well enough to make sure I can make as many appearances as I can.
“It will be good to be a part of the World Cup and it’s not that far away so it’s something to aim for.
“It’s been a good learning curve. When you’re playing against quality opposition you’ve got to take the opportunities when they come because they make you suffer if you don’t.
“Just playing at that level can only help me and make me a better player when I get back to playing for Cas.
“I didn’t think I played like I can play, which was pretty frustrating, but it was good experience.
“It was not because I was playing scrum-half instead of stand-off. There’s no real difference, it’s just a number.
“It was tough the way we went down in the final. We could’ve made it a better game. We made a few too many errors and you can’t afford to do that against the Australians. But England’s definitely on the way up. I think we can be better for it.”
Since winning the Man of Steel then announcing the switch of allegiance from his native New Zealand to England, Chase has been the focus of increasing media scrutiny, but he is getting used to the extra attention.
He added: “After I decided to play for England it was expected, but during the tournament I didn’t get too much attention, which was good.
“There were a few people writing negative stuff in the press and it was getting a bit annoying. But the fans have been good to me. It was an unbelievable atmosphere on Saturday and great to play in front of a crowd like that.”
Tigers’ young half-back Ryan Brierley has joined Co-operative Championship side Leigh Centurions on a season-long loan. Cas are keen for the highly rated playmaker and goal kicker to gain senior experience after 18 months training with the first team squad and two-and-a-half years with the Tigers in total.
Brierley, 19, who recently signed a one-year deal with Castleford, hails from Preston and lives near the Leigh ground.