Mathers 'felt like an outcast' at Castleford

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FULL-back Richard Mathers is relishing his new life at Wakefield Wildcats, four months after he was made an outcast at Castleford Tigers.

The former Leeds, Wigan and Warrington player was shocked to discover that he did not figure in the plans of new Tigers coach Ian Millward, despite being just 12 months into a three-year contract.

Mathers says he was told to stay away from training and faced a season on the sidelines until Wildcats coach Richard Agar came to his rescue, negotiating a year-long loan deal.

The 28-year-old, who is set to make his debut for his new club in next Friday's Stobart Super League opener at Widnes Vikings, says he has never been given an explanation for his treatment at Castleford.

"There's probably only one person who can answer that and it's not me," he said.

"I've not done anything wrong. I signed a three-year contract and played quite well last year.

"I was told that, no matter what, I wouldn't feature. I was told to stay away and, after three or four weeks of pre-season, I was allowed to go in and train on my own with the conditioning staff.

"I felt like an outcast. It's a lonely old place. You spend a lot of time on your own and it was a good job I've got a good family around me, people I could talk to and let my emotions out.

"It was quite stressful. You do a lot of soul-searching, wondering what you've done wrong but I couldn't find a reason and I still can't. I had 25 friends there all questioning it as well. I'm not a trouble-maker."

Mathers was rated the second best full-back in Super League behind Paul Wellens when he signed for Australian newcomers Gold Coast Titans in 2006 from home-town club Leeds.

He returned to England in 2008 to sign for Wigan and was a member of Warrington's back-to-back Challenge Cup-winning teams before moving to Castleford 12 months ago.

That experience prompted Agar to make Mathers one of his 18 new signings.

"He's been a winner throughout his career," he said. "He's won plenty of trophies at Leeds and Warrington and he backed himself and played in the NRL.

"To get a player of his experience at this moment in time, with what he will add to the group in terms of professionalism and mental strength, makes him a very good signing for us."

Mathers is still technically a Castleford player for the next two years but he is determined to make the most of the next 12 months with his new team-mates.

"It's quite refreshing to know that you are wanted because you do doubt yourself," he added. "I just want to enjoy this year and we'll see what happens."