GREG EDEN is the first to admit he never envisaged being a prolific winger for hometown Castleford Tigers.
That is not because Super League’s top-try scorer had any doubts about his ability to cross the whitewash; the former Hull KR and Huddersfield Giants star has always been a potent player.
It is just that Eden – looking to add to his 15 tries when Castleford face St Helens in today’s mouthwatering Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth-round tie – initially felt he would arrive in 2017 to feature at full-back when he agreed terms last June.
With the popular Luke Dorn having headed back to Australia, Eden came the other way from Brisbane Broncos looking to make the No 1 jersey his own, only to then see Daryl Powell sign Zak Hardaker in November on a season-long loan from Leeds Rhinos.
It has all worked out fine, mind, given enthralling Castleford are top of Super League, a flourishing Hardaker is back in the England squad and the fleet-footed Eden has seamlessly filled the void created by last season’s 42-try top scorer Denny Solomona’s infamous switch to Sale Sharks.
“Originally I did want to come play full-back but I think circumstances changed for us to get us to get a strong squad,” he explained to The Yorkshire Post.
“Daryl had the opportunity to sign Zak and I was not really fussed that I’m playing out of position; as long as I’m playing well and we’ve good players in the squad that will help us win something it doesn’t make much difference. I’ve been playing outside Michael Shenton, too, which makes it that little bit easier with all his experience helping me out.
“He was out all last year with a knee injury but he’s been like another new signing for the squad this time.
“Getting tries personally is always nice but it’s more important winning as a team which is what we’re doing.
“We’ve had a couple of losses in there, including one at St Helens on Easter Monday, but that’s all part of getting better and hopefully we’ve learned from that ready for Saints on Saturday. It was only a four-point defeat so hopefully we can turn it around this week.”
I used to always be trying stupid, high-risk plays. But now I’ve grown up a bit I’ve realised I can’t always do that – I have to pick a time and a place.Castleford Tigers’ Greg Eden
Admittedly, Castleford have won their last two games and with their international contingent of Hardaker, Luke Gale and Mike McMeeken all returning after England’s success over Samoa in Sydney last Saturday – Eden played full-back in the win at Huddersfield – they are favourites to progress this afternoon.
That said, it will be intriguing to see if Rangi Chase features after the club admitted it was investigating after an alleged incident at Featherstone Rovers’ home Cup tie with Halifax on Thursday.
Eden, meanwhile, seems a much more rounded player following his two seasons in the NRL and it is no surprise he, too, is tipped for England honours.
Beforehand, the talented 26-year-old was renowned for moments of sheer magic allied with glaring, often bizarre, errors but, thankfully, the latter seem now to be largely eradicated.
“I think that was just a part of growing up,” said Eden.
“I used to always be trying stupid, high-risk plays. But now I’ve grown up a bit I’ve realised I can’t always do that – I have to pick a time and a place. Sometimes it still happens but I think that’s just me as a player and the main thing is I’ve cut it out so it’s not happening all the time.
“I think I grew as a player in Australia and as a person; before I left I was probably a bit young and naive messing about a little bit too much. I’m glad I went; it was something I always wanted to do.”
Ironically, Eden started out in Castleford’s Under-20s side as a stand-off before making his senior debut on the wing in 2011, making just one more appearance before turning down a new deal to join Huddersfield.
He is not going anywhere now.