Roberts ready to take on challenge of playing full-back for Castleford

Castleford's Ben Roberts.
Castleford's Ben Roberts.

World Cup player Ben Roberts is looking forward to the challenge of switching from half-back to play full-back for Castleford Tigers in the season ahead.

Head coach Daryl Powell has earmarked the 32-year-old Samoan international as the replacement for Zak Hardaker and Roberts is happy to become the Tigers’ new number one.

He said: “I had a good chat with Powelly about a week after the Grand Final and we discussed me playing full-back so it’s something I’ve known about for a while.

“He asked my opinion and I’m happy to take on the challenge. It’s not going to be easy, I know that. It’s going to take hard work, but I’m willing to do that.

“I’ve played there before and I haven’t lost a game at full-back so that’s pretty good stat to have!”

Roberts acknowledged that there will be things he will need to work on in order to make a success of the full-back’s role.

He said: “I suppose it gives me the opportunity to showcase my skill a little bit more, but at the same time you’ve got to be a lot fitter to do that as well.

“My conditioning levels have got to be a lot more than if I was in the halves so I’m working hard on that.

“Daryl’s smart and he knows what I’m capable of and what my strengths and weaknesses are so there might be a few things in our game we might just have to tweak a bit, just to sort of help me out there, but I wouldn’t think there would be too much difference.”

Roberts has only been back in training just over a week after a delayed start to pre-season following his appearances in the World Cup. He admits he is playing catch-up with his fitness, but is pleased to be back in the company of his Cas team-mates.

He added: “It’s definitely a bit strange at the minute. The boys have been training really hard while I was away so I feel I’m a bit behind them, but I’m getting better real quick.

“After a good off-season I’m feeling fresh and ready and looking forward to a good season.

“I missed the place to be honest while being in Australia for just under three months.

“It’s good to be back and to see the boys. We’re a pretty tight bunch and a tight playing group so to be in and around the boys is always good. It’s good to get back into routine.

“I’m just getting used to the cold again, but I’m very fortunate that it’s back to warm weather training in Lanzarote this week. This camp is pretty important – obviously we got a lot out of it last year.

“This isn’t a holiday, but at the same time it’s a good chance for us to bond together and get a bit closer. There’s a few new faces that have come into the squad from other teams and the under 19s so it’s good opportunity to get to know each other on a personal level.”