It’s back to the future as Jewitt reflects on glory try

Lee Jewitt celebrates his match-clinching try against former club Wigan Warriors in the 2014 Challenge Cup quarter-final.

Lee Jewitt celebrates his match-clinching try against former club Wigan Warriors in the 2014 Challenge Cup quarter-final.

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IT is an iconic image and one which Lee Jewitt says depicts the finest moment in his rugby league career “by far” even though it is not at a final or involving silverware.

The picture in question, of course, is the celebration shot of the jubilant loose-forward and his Castleford Tigers team-mates after his match-clinching try during an epic Challenge Cup quarter-final win at mighty Wigan Warriors in 2014.

Wigan, whom Jewitt had played with as a junior, had not been beaten at home in a Challenge Cup tie for the previous 28 years with Castleford, ironically, being their conquerors then, too.

Two years ago, they produced an inspired display to dethrone the cup holders once more, Jewitt’s late try confirming a 16-4 win and setting them on the way to Wembley where they were eventually undone by Leeds Rhinos.

Castleford return to the DW Stadium this evening at the same stage of the competition and, obviously, looking for the same result.

Jewitt, 29, will line up once more for the West Yorkshire club and is more than happy to recall that famous day.

“It’s probably the best moment I’ve ever had in rugby league by far,” he told The Yorkshire Post.

“You walk out at Wembley which is outstanding – brilliant – but for that actual moment there is nothing that compares to that moment at Wigan.

“It was absolutely brilliant; when you look back and see what it means to those supporters and our boys and the faces and everyone involved with Cas...

“It is definitely something that will live with me forever.”

That performance was also arguably the point at which the wider rugby league public started to realise Daryl Powell, who had taken over at Wheldon Road barely 12 months before, was really starting a revolution at the unfashionable club.

Jewitt, who had joined from French club Lezignan just four weeks earlier, admitted: “I think people do write teams off and thought ‘Wigan away?’ like they probably are doing this week with us.

“They did that that year and people probably did start taking notice of us and realising there was something special at this club and with that team.

“For the team we’ve got now – some have moved on, others have joined since – it’s about rewriting that day but going one better and actually winning the cup.”

That would be a perfect send-off for Jewitt, who is set to leave Castleford at the end of the season to moves across the world and start a new life in Australia where he will play for Townsville Blackhawks, the feeder club of current NRL champions North Queensland Cowboys.

He actually started his career at this evening’s opponents before a brief spell Down Under as a teenager.

“I was at Wigan as a junior, got brought through their scholarship and managed to play a couple of first-team games before leaving,” he explained.

“I went to Australia for a little bit but there was a big thing that happened and I had to come back to Wigan.

“I’d gone to Cronulla who had players like David Peachey, Tevita Latu and Phil Leuluai.

“I was only about 17 but I had a broken wrist before I went and it got worse, and worse and worse.

“So, by rights, I had to go back to Wigan – as that’s where I did it – to have it fixed.

“I came back and ended up signing for Salford.”

Oldham-born Jewitt, though, had got a taste for Australia and, 13 years on, he will head there again.

“I’ve always wanted to go,” he admitted.

“When we’ve been there on holiday as a family we’d say who doesn’t want to bring their children up in that environment, the weather, the outdoor lifestyle...?

“From a family point of view, we’ve wanted to do it and rugby-wise – as brilliant as Super League is and how much I love Cas – I’m getting older now and have to look at life after rugby as well.”

The mention there of family brings us to Jewitt’s twin babies who faced such a battle for life when being born 14 weeks premature last June.

They spent more than three months in hospital but, thankfully, are both thriving now.

“They’ve got their own personality – Oliver’s a real monkey and Noah’s really serious so we’ve got that mix there which is brilliant,” added Jewitt, who was so thankful to Castleford for allowing him to fully dedicate himself to wife Rebecca and their children during that difficult period.

Wigan, who are second in Super League just two points behind leaders Hull FC, welcome back the likes of England captain Sean O’Loughlin and Sam Tomkins for this evening’s game.

But Castleford, who have lost three of their last four games, had their own boost yesterday when scrum-half Luke Gale passed a late fitness test and came into their 19-man squad at the expense of Tom Holmes.

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