Family ties add extra spice to Tigers game for Crooks

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Considering the prominence of his legendary father with Hull FC and Castleford Tigers, tonight’s encounter between the two has more significance than most for Ben Crooks.

The teenage centre, whose dad Lee remains a hero for both, hopes to continue developing his own promising career if given the nod by Hull coach Peter Gentle.

As he also hails from Castleford, the fixture is further intriguing for the youngster who admits he cannot readily recall ever seeing his famous father in action.

“I was too young to be fair and the only memories I’ve got are photos of being a mascot and running out with him at Cas’,” Crooks told the Yorkshire Post.

“I think I was only about one or two when dad played. He’s had a massive impact on me though.

“For a man who’s done so much in the game and has so much experience, you can’t not listen to him.

“He’s been very influential especially when I was growing up and even still now playing first grade I’ll always ring after a game and ask how he thinks I’ve done.

“It means a lot to me but I know as well he won’t talk rubbish – he’ll get straight to the point.”

Crooks senior, the ball-handling ex-Great Britain prop who captained Castleford to the 1994 Regal Trophy having also memorably led home town Hull to a 1982 Challenge Cup success, will have had few grounds for complaint following his son’s excellent display a week ago.

He delivered a man-of-the-match performance as emphatic Hull inflicted a record 70-6 Super League defeat on Bradford Bulls.

Remarkably, the 19-year-old had already played one half of the Under-20s curtain-raiser as well.

“I didn’t even know I’d be playing until pretty much five minutes before kick-off,” he said.

“Kirk Yeaman strained a calf in the warm-up and I was 18th man.

“They always tell you to prepare to play but you never really think it’s going to happen.

“The boys put in a great performance though and there was no way I was coming off; you can’t help but enjoy it when you’re playing that well as a team.

“I didn’t do too much on the Sunday, though.”

As Yeaman hopes to return along with long-term injury absentees Danny Tickle and Will Sharp, Crooks – six tries from 13 games since debuting in April – may have a fight on for his place.

“It’d be a great privilege to play against Cas’, my home town club,” he said, being one of NINE Hull players who make a daily commute from that RL hotbed.

“I go down and watch them pretty much whenever I can and have a couple of friends there too; I went to school with Daryl Clark.

“The main thing, though, is we head strong into the play-offs.

“We were sloppy against Widnes (42-16 loss) but proved at Bradford we are a competitive side and can go on and win this comp’.

“We have to continue that against Castleford.”