Recalled Ben Jones-Bishop admits being dropped by Leeds Rhinos was “a wake-up call” for his burgeoning career.
The exciting winger, part of Leeds’s Grand Final side and a member of England’s Four Nations squad, is expected to play his third successive game for the champions tonight after being overlooked at the start of the season.
Rhinos coach Brian McDermott preferred the more experienced Lee Smith for the opening games against Hull KR and Wigan, meaning Jones-Bishop, who scored 13 tries in 19 games last year, could not even find a place in the match-day squad.
However, after Smith suffered injury at Wigan, he was brought back into the fold for the World Club Challenge, crossing in the epic win over Manly and twice more at Widnes last Sunday.
“I was a bit disappointed,” Jones-Bishop told the Yorkshire Post about his shock omission.
“But, obviously, after playing for much of last year I probably took it for granted a bit.
“It’s a wake-up call and I think I needed it.
“Since then, I’ve knuckled down. I’d come back late for pre-season as I’d got a few extra weeks off, having been with England, and Smithy looked good in the friendlies while the Under-20 games I played in weren’t the best.
“But I was determined to get back in the team and now I’ve started these last two I’m just as determined to try to keep hold of the shirt.”
The Leeds-born wideman, who scored in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley last August, will look to continue his rebuilding work at Castleford this evening but insists his game should not just be rated by how many tries he amasses.
“It’s always nice to get over but it’s the other things that go on that you need to work hard at,” he added.
“I’m just trying to do the most I can to help the team and do my bit whether that’s lots of carries, scoring tries or just being involved.”
The little-known Josh Griffin has been leading the way on the wing for Castleford, scoring six tries in just four games.
Jones-Bishop, 23, will be on the opposite flank so should not come into direct opposition with the younger brother of Leeds colleague Darrell.
However, he said: “He’s one to try and lock down and stop getting over the line.
“He’s been scoring a lot of tries but it’s the threats that give him ball as well – the likes of Rangi (Chase), Danny Orr or Richie Owen we have to watch for.
“Cas will take some stopping. It’s another derby game and we know the form book will go out of the window for this.”
While their hosts are keen to win their first match in four games, thriving Leeds are intent on a third successive victory.
They give a Super League debut to young hooker Liam Hood and recall England captain Jamie Peacock after the prop was rested at Widnes.