Joe Westerman signs for Castleford for the 2022 season
Joe Westerman to return to Castleford Tigers, where he began his professional career; Westerman said: "From being a kid and supporting them to now, where they are up there with some quality players, it is really exciting."
Last Updated: 22/06/21 5:33pm
Castleford Tigers have announced that Joe Westerman has signed a two-year deal with the club from the 2022 season.
The forward will return to the club where his professional career began, 12 years on since his last appearance as a Castleford player.
The 31-year-old came through the Castleford youth ranks before bursting onto the scene during the Tigers' Championship winning season in 2007. Westerman played an integral role in that campaign, including scoring a try in the Grand Final which took the Tigers back into the Super League.
Since leaving at the end of the 2010 season, Westerman has gone on to play for Hull FC, Warrington Wolves, Toronto Wolfpack and is now at Wakefield Trinity, where he has been in some of the best form of his career, particularly in 2021 which has earned him a call-up to the latest England squad.
"It's been about 10 years since I last played at Castleford, and since I was a young kid, I have always supported Cas," Westerman told the club's website.
"My whole family around me support Cas so it will be good, and it is something I am really looking forward to. Cas has always been a big club in my eyes. From being a kid and supporting them to now, where they are up there with some quality players, it is really exciting. The standard is really high now and I just want to get there and play well for my hometown club next year."
With such impressive performances so far for Wakefield this season, Shaun Wane drafted Westerman into his England squad, and the 31-year-old explained that he had fallen back in love with the sport whilst he has been with Trinity.
"I'm loving my time at Wakefield, and I have the upmost respect for the club and the people in it. It has made me enjoy my rugby again and I have got a lot to thank Wakefield for. I get up every morning loving going to work.
"I think it is just me enjoying my rugby and finding the love for it again. I have realised the little things you have to do away from the pitch to make you a better player."
Lee Radford is a familiar face for the loose-forward, as the pair worked alongside each other at Hull FC and Joe is very excited about working with his former coach again in 2022.
"I have worked with Lee Radford for a lot of years, I get on well with him as a coach and as a person. I honestly think that he will do a great job at Cas, and he'll have the fans on his side straight away."
The Fords' Head Coach from 2022 was very pleased at capturing Westerman for his Tigers squad next season, praising his terrific efforts this year in Betfred Super League.
"Joe is in very good form, and he is in a good place in his life, he is at a point in his career that he has a couple of years to win something," said Radford.
"In my opinion he should have more international caps than he has but for whatever reason that hasn't happened. I honestly think for a ball playing 13 there aren't too many better in the competition at the minute."
Sky Sports pundit Terry O'Connor says that Westerman's experience will be massive for the Tigers and they will see the best of what he has to offer.
"It's back to where it all began for Joe Westerman as his career goes full circle," said O'Connor.
"I remember him breaking onto the scene back in 2007 for the Tigers - a season where he won National League 1 Young Player of The Year.
"He backed up his credentials and ability the following season too - moving up to the Super League with Castleford and lifting the same award again.
"From a young age you could see that he was always destined for a great career in the game.
"He's back in the England squad again and is set to feature against the Combined Nations All Stars on Friday night - but when he looks back on his career I think he'll be a tad disappointed to only have one international cap against his name.
"Joe has always had the potential to achieve more in the sport and I think it has been his movement from club to club that has held him back a bit - but when he's at a club where he's happy and settled we always see the best of him.
"We've seen that over the last couple of seasons with Wakefield - and I am positive that will continue as he re-joins his hometown club for the next two seasons.
"The Tigers have got themselves a strong, mature player in Westerman and I expect him to be a big feature of the side going forward."