Castleford Tigers: ‘Bad boy’ Kenny Edwards on that 10-match ban and Super League switch – Exclusive

Kenny Edwards has spoken publicly for the first time about the incident which saw him hit with a 10-game ban – and believes it will lead to him playing his best rugby league yet with new club Castleford Tigers.

Ready for new campaign: Castleford Tigers' Kenny Edwards. Picture: Melanie Allatt Photography
Ready for new campaign: Castleford Tigers' Kenny Edwards. Picture: Melanie Allatt Photography

The New Zealander second-row received the huge suspension in July after pleading guilty to putting a finger up the bottom of Catalans Dragons prop Sam Kasiano while playing for Huddersfield Giants.

Even after the ban was completed, he was never selected for the club again and, for the final year of his Giants contract, the forward has been loaned to their Super League rivals.

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Edwards, 32, had been put on report by referee Ben Thaler after a complaint brought by Kasiano.

He was charged by the Rugby Football League’s match review panel with a Grade F offence – the most serious available to it – for ‘other contrary behaviour’ and referred to an independent tribunal, which handed out the punishment.

In an exclusive interview with The Yorkshire Post, Edwards looked back on the incident and admitted: “It’s been a long time out because of it.

“It was a bit unfortunate with what happened; I was kind of hoping the RFL would take it for what it was. Sam Kasiano is my best mate and he came to the judiciary (tribunal) with me.

“But, at the end of the day, I did the wrong thing. I shouldn’t have done that. I copped the ban according to that. I’ll take it on the chin and I am moving forward.

Kenny Edwards, gets in some early pre-season training with Castleford Tigers. Picture courtesy of Melanie Allatt.

“I’m raring to go. I’m fitter than what I was, I’ve had a bit of time away from the game and I just want to put my best foot forward for Castleford Tigers.”

There has been plenty of controversy earlier in Edwards’s career, with the hard-running forward racking up various suspensions for on and off-field indiscretions and he was also booted out of three NRL clubs.

But he quit drinking three years ago which, in his own words, had helped see him become mentally stronger and also a better father.

Edwards, who won the 2018 Challenge Cup with Catalans, was in excellent form for Huddersfield, earning a place in the Combined Nations All Stars side that defeated England in June.

Kenny Edwards - in action for Huddersfield Giants against St Helens in September 2020. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Now the former Parramatta Eels star hopes to show Castleford fans what he is capable of in 2022 as he forms part of the ‘new era’ at Wheldon Road under incoming coach Lee Radford.

Former Huddersfield team-mate Jordan Turner thrived after joining Tigers from Giants last season, scoring 17 tries largely as a makeshift winger and playing in the Challenge Cup final at Wembley, while prop Suaia Matagai also excelled after making the same switch.

Edwards hopes the same move will have a similar revitalising effect on his own game and added: “I’m loving it so far. We’re into the fourth week (of pre-season training) and I couldn’t be more happier with the change.

“I think it was needed for myself and I’m just happy I’m here.

“I’m always pushing myself to try and be the best I can be. Jordan obviously had a good year this year and I think that came down to being happy.

“What he said to me was, more than anything, he was happy and that’s the biggest thing. I played with Suaia a few times. I was with him back home at Parra’ as well and he’s a bit of a character.

“It’s good to be back with Suaia and it’s the same thing with him: he’s happy.

“If the first few weeks are anything to go by, I’ll be looking for a big year this year.”

Edwards is one of eight new signings for Castleford as they look to get underway with former Hull FC coach Radford at the helm after Daryl Powell’s eight-year reign came to a close.

Edwards will be a like-for-like replacement for long-serving Oli Holmes, the one-cap England second-row who has followed Powell to Warrington Wolves along with centre Pete Mata’utia.

Holmes was a genuine crowd-favourite at Wheldon Road, revered for his hard tackling and being part of the Castleford side that finished top in 2017, so Edwards may have big boots to fill.

But he insisted: “I haven’t got shoes to fill. I’m coming here to be Kenny Edwards. No-one else.

“I don’t know too much about Oli but, for me, I’ll just be doing my job and not worrying about who’s been before me.

“I understand the team has had a lot of success and reached the Challenge Cup final last season so I want to come and add to it and be Kenny Edwards.”

He is stepping up training after recovering from knee surgery and, looking ahead to 2022, said: “I don’t want to give any estimates of where we’re going to finish.

“I was in a situation last season when there were a lot of articles about how good Huddersfield are going to go. It just puts pressure on people.

“For me, it’s about turning up every day from now and showing my best as last season, although my on-field form was okay, I want to try and give a little bit more this time around.”