Castleford Tigers have received a huge boost ahead of tonight’s top-of-the-table clash against St Helens after prolific winger Justin Carney ignored interest from around the world to sign a new five-year deal at Wheldon Road.
The Australian, whose existing contract was due to expire at the end of 2014, has scored 31 tries in 28 games for Castleford since his move from Sydney Roosters before the start of last season. His powerful style made him an instant hit with fans and, after scoring a hat-trick in Sunday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup victory against Batley Bulldogs, he now hopes to help defeat unbeaten leaders Saints.
Carney, 25, admitted: “It’s a good feeling. There’s been a few stressful months trying to figure out what I wanted to do, but I knew I really wanted to stay and I’m pleased it all worked out.
“I didn’t realise that there were so many people wanting me in their team, but I think that I belong here at Cas. At the end of the day, my family and I are happy here and that’s all that matters.”
Castleford have, traditionally, seen most of their big stars leave elsewhere so Carney’s signature says plenty about the West Yorkshire club’s growing stature.
Under Daryl Powell they have made real progress and, with just one loss all year, know they could usurp Saints at the top with victory at Wheldon Road this evening.
“It’s a big statement from the club and a big decision for me,” added Carney. “But the people that I play with are my best mates off the field; they’ve made me feel at home since the day I got here. I hold most of the people here as close friends for life. It’s a good feeling to be a part of something like this – it’s very special, especially with the way we’re going at the moment. It was a big culture change at the start of the year with new people coming in with a lot of experience and it’s great to be a part of it. I don’t want to be complacent, but I can just concentrate on my footy now.
“When you know your future is sorted it puts your mind at ease and you can take a step back and focus on what’s important which is us winning every week.
“It’s not going to come easy, but that’s our goal and I’ll be busting a gut and doing everything in my power to help us do it starting with Saints on Friday.”
Carney is now contracted until the end of 2019.