IT HAS been a long and winding road, but Castleford Tigers’ new signing Daniel Smith is finally home.
The 26-year-old forward joined Castleford yesterday after being released by Huddersfield Giants and could make his debut against Wigan Warriors at the Jungle on Friday.
Born in Pontefract, he was a Castleford season-ticket holder growing up, but began his career with Leeds Rhinos’ academy.
He left without making a first team appearance and, after a year in Australia, had a two-year stint with Wakefield Trinity before moving to Huddersfield in 2015.
Giants made it clear his contract would not be renewed at the end of this year and he was sent on loan to Featherstone Rovers for the early part of the season, but has now signed for Tigers until the end of 2020.
“It is massive for me to play here,” said Smith. “It has always been a big dream of mine so it could not have worked out any better.
“It is my home town club so hopefully I can finish [his career] here.
“There was a bit of interest from Cas in the past, but I always went elsewhere and it never came about.
“I am here now and I can’t wait to get started.
“There were a couple of other options, but I didn’t want to look away from here.
“I wanted to get a deal done here and thankfully it has been.”
Smith is following in a family tradition. His late grandfather Eddie Lavender played 87 times for Castleford from 1945-1947 and Smith added: “Hopefully he’s looking down on me and he’ll be happy.
“I like playing how Cas play, their style.
“I am pretty good with ball in hand and I am hoping I can show that.”
Smith’s arrival will boost Tigers’ squad which has been hit by an early-season injury crisis.
He admitted: “They’ve got very good forwards here and it’s a hard team to get into. They have a lot of experience in the pack, hopefully I can learn a lot off the senior players here and it’s only going to benefit me.”
Castleford’s gain is Featherstone’s loss.
Callum Turner, who had been on loan at Rovers from Castleford, was recalled last week and Smith’s departure is another blow for the Championship club.
Smith insisted: “I went to Featherstone at the start of the year just to get a bit of game time and ended up playing five or six weeks there.
“I really enjoyed it, Ryan Carr is a good coach and they have got a good team together. They should do well in the Championship.”
Meanwhile, Castleford will be without hooker Paul McShane for three matches after he was suspended for used of a forearm/elbow on Richie Myler in last Friday’s defeat at Leeds Rhinos. McShane, who pleaded guilty, could have been banned for up to five games, but was given credit for his previous good record and the fact no injury was caused to the Leeds man.