PLAYER of the year Rangi Chase is backing new half-back partner Danny Orr to be a big hit on his return to Castleford Tigers for the 2011 season.
In the pre-season trials Chase (pictured) has operated mostly in his preferred stand-off position with Orr at scrum-half and the New Zealand Maori star is relishing the prospect of further developing an understanding with his new “role model” in the forthcoming Super League campaign.
Orr’s vast experience and ability to organise the players around him could be one of the keys to a successful campaign for the Tigers and he is expected to ease the workload on Chase, who can put his talents to use in other parts of his attacking game.
Chase told the Express: “I’m really looking forward to getting to play alongside Danny.
“We’re still getting to know one another on the field, but the trial games have been a help and his organisation and ability to get us around the pitch is going to be a big help.
“I won’t have to worry so much about getting us around and I can concentrate on other areas of my game.
“He’s a good mate off the field as well. Danny is already looking after me, he picks up for training and takes me home. He’s a good role model.”
Chase expects an improvement in other areas of the team as well as at half-back in 2011 and is keen to get started on what he sees as a season of great hope for Cas fans.
He said: “I think we’re set for a good season. I said it last year and we didn’t end up having a great season, but this is the strongest squad we’ve had since I’ve been here and we’ve got a lot more depth.
“I think we’re going to be pitching for a final spot, touch wood, if everything goes well.
“It’s a long season and anything can happen, but I’m tipping it’s going to be a successful one for us.
“We’ve got a good balance of players this year. We’ve brought some good experienced players in like Nick Fozzard and Danny Orr and Raz (Ryan Hudson) has good experience as well.
“We’ve got some young players like Adam Milner, Jordan Thompson, Joe Arundel and Olly Holmes who are showing what they can do and young Daz Clark is knocking on the door too. They’ve had a few games now and they are going to be better for it this year.
“The young lads have done well in the trials and some of them have put their hand up to say they are ready for the big step into the first team.
“Hopefully everyone will get through the trials injury free and we can then kick on our season.
“I can’t wait for the first game and everyone can’t wait for the start of the new season. A local derby as well and Millennium Magic too, it’s exciting.
“I’m real happy with the way I’ve been going in training. I feel good, I’m just ready to play now.
“It’s been pretty tough in training and we’ve been tested, but I enjoy doing a bit of hard work and hopefully all that hard work pays off during the season. The more you put in the more you feel the benefit of it.”
Chase was delighted to win the Tigers player of the year for the second season running last year and would love to make it a hat-trick in 2011, but stressed team success was more important to him than personal honours.
He added: “It would be nice to get player of the year again, but that’s not a thing I worry about. If I’m playing well and doing well for the team that’s what matters. All I want to do is to win games.
“It was nice to be recognised again last year, but if I win it again that would be a bonus.
“I enjoyed playing for the Maori against England. I had an up and down game, but got it together a bit in the second half and it was an awesome experience. Hopefully I can do it again in the future.
“It’s always a dream to represent New Zealand and every Kiwi wants to play for their country. I’d love to be selected, but I just need to focus on what I can do here and play the best I can.
“I’ve still got a lot to learn and hopefully something like that can pop up for me.
“But I’ve got a lot of competition for my spot with Benji Marshall and Nathan Fien and Kieran Foran, who’s only young but a solid player. It’s going to be hard to make that team and they are world champions so if there was a chance it would be an honour just to make the squad.
“For now I’ve got to focus on my job here. I’m here for three years and want to see Castleford do as well as possible.
“We need to make a good start as you always need to and looking at our draw we have games that are winnable, but we want to focus on that first game initially. It’s always a good atmosphere playing against them blokes and we’re really looking forward to it. We can’t wait to get to Cardiff and start the season.”