Fit again forward Oliver Holmes admits he is playing to win another contract with Castleford Tigers.
The 25-year-old back rower is out of contract at the end of the 2018 season, but wants to stay on with the only club he has ever played for.
Holmes came through the academy system at Cas and has made more than 150 first team appearances for the club since making his debut in 2010.
He has had a tough time with injuries in recent years, but is feeling 100 per cent now and was one of the better players, as identified by head coach Daryl Powell, in the Tigers’ opening round defeat at St Helens.
Holmes knows he has to keep his performance level up if he is to earn a new contract and is keen to play on beyond this year with the League Leaders’ Shield holders.
He said: “I am out of contract this year and I am playing for a contract.
“I have only ever been at Cas and this is my home and I love it here. I am a local lad and I can’t see myself wanting to go anywhere else.
“I have had a pretty terrible two years, but I am definitely over it now.
“I have had a full pre-season, which I haven’t done for about five years, and physically I feel like I am back to my best.
“Mentally I am back to where I should be and I am confident in my body and my ability to get back to where I want to be as a player and get back to my standards.”
Holmes admitted it was a shock for the players to be so comprehensively defeated at St Helens.
“We didn’t see it coming,” he said.
“There’s been times in previous years when we haven’t let games like that get away from us. We’ve been able to claw our way back into games.
“We pride ourselves on a never-say-die attitude.
“For a game to get away from us like it did was a bit disappointing and worrying.
“But we have addressed everything and we could maybe turn this into a positive four or five weeks down the line, look back at this to say we probably needed it.
“It has been a rude awakening and it could turn into a positive if we go out and put things right and it doesn’t happen to us again.
“It’s better it happening at the start of the season than halfway through or towards the back end when it’s most important.”
Holmes admitted there was “a bit of dishonesty” about Cas in the game last week.
He added: “We pride ourselves on being a hard working, honest team and looking after each other. That didn’t seem to be the case last week.
“We definitely know where we need to be better and what we need to improve on so it doesn’t happen again.”