Castleford Tigers’ new half-back recruit Luke Gale is delighted that he will finally be able to call his favourite ground home.
The former Leeds Rhinos, Doncaster, London and Bradford player cannot wait to run out for his first Super League game in Castleford colours at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle and says he has always enjoyed playing at the ground.
In opposition ranks the 26-year-old has always found the atmosphere special and reckons the fans are “like an extra man” to the Cas team.
Gale, who has signed a two-year deal at Castleford, told the Express: “I’ve been asked the question quite a lot about what’s the best ground I like playing at and I’ve said Cas ever since I was like 18 years old.
“When I’ve played here with Bradford and London the atmosphere’s always been good.
“They are normally shouting against you and calling you all the names under the sun, but it’s a good thing. Your prefer some atmosphere rather than none, even if the fans are chanting against you.
“They will be chanting for me now so I’m looking forward to that and it will be great to run out knowing you are going to get that backing from such passionate fans.
“I know it’s a cliche, but it’s like an extra man on the pitch.
“Cas is a real good club, it’s one big tight unit, the players are brilliant and the fans are massive. It’s family orientated as well, which is good.
“As I came out of the ground in my first game against Bradford you had fans coming up to you and saying well done. It’s good and like one big family really.”
Being a West Yorkshire lad Gale knows all about the rivalries Cas supporters have and is well aware of the importance of making a good start with the opening Super League game against Wakefield Wildcats.
He said: “Cas-Wakefield is a good rivalry so it’s a massive game to start with.
“As I came away from the Bradford game a few fans grabbed me and said I hope we’re ready for round one against them down the road.
“So the fans have got their rivalry and I’m sure we will be ready to hit the ground running. They are very passionate fans and I’m already well aware of the rivalries and the importance of beating Wakefield.
“The Leeds game will be a good one as well and Cas normally do well against them so I’m looking forward to that game.”
Gale says preparations are going well for the Super League season with combinations gradually coming together on the training field and on the pitch in the pre-season warm-ups.
He said: “It’s all going good so far. We’ve had 12 weeks training and we’ve got a lot of new players so it’s a case of getting used to each other, but we’re working well together.
“We have a lot of new players in key areas, me and Ben Roberts at six and seven and Scotty Moore at nine, so it’s about us getting used to each other’s game.
“Everywhere on the pitch we’ve got someone new. We’ve got a couple of new back rowers, a new hooker, a new half-back combination, so the more we play will benefit us and things are starting to gel.
“I’m looking forward to us putting it all together for the first Super League game.
“We’ve a couple more friendlies before then and hopefully we can get a few more things sorted in those games and get our combinations nailed and our timing right.”
Gale does not know yet whether he will be the Tigers’ regular goal kicker, but is aware of what head coach Daryl Powell wants from him in the scrum-half role.
He added: “Daryl wants me to control and guide the team round the park, use my kicking game.
“It’s a new team so I’m still getting used to the role and how he wants me to play, but that’s coming and as I play more games I’ll know more and more what’s expected of me.
“Probably the hardest thing when you come to a new club as a half-back is learning the different roles and the way the team wants to play.
“I’m looking forward to playing behind the great pack we have here.
“When they get on the front foot it gives you so much more extra space and time as a half- back.
“We haven’t really spoken about whether I’ll be the regular goal kicker. But I like kicking goals. I kicked a lot at Bradford and it’s a role I enjoy.
“My percentages will be up there along with anyone in Super League so it’s something I’d like to do at Cas. I don’t see it as a burden, I see it as a bit of privilege to be honest.
“I’m always practicing kicking goals so we’ll see when it comes down it. I enjoy it.”