Former Castleford Tigers back Jordan Rankin excited by Parramatta Eels chance

HE NEVER expected to be playing in the NRL again but former Castleford Tigers player Jordan Rankin is looking forward to making the most of his latest shot in the Australian competition.

15 March 2020 ..... Castleford Tigers v St Helens. Super League. Tigers Jordan Rankin tackled by Saints Kevin Naiqama. Picture Tony Johnson

Utility-back Rankin, 28, left Wheldon Road less than a month ago after being granted a release from his contract on compassionate grounds.

Parramatta Eels yesterday announced he had completed a deal with them until the end of 2021.

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It is the second time the popular Australian has returned home from Super League.

Rankin initially left Hull FC for Wests Tigers in 2016 but headed back to the UK with Huddersfield Giants in June the following year.

He had spent last season at Castleford on loan from Huddersfield and continued with Daryl Powell’s side this term, impressing once more having made the full-back role his own.

“It’s exciting and good to be here,” said Rankin, having completed his first training session with high-fliers Parramatta.

“I had to go through a heap of protocol with the Covid stuff that’s going on throughout the NRL at the moment.

St Helens Saints' Zeb Taia is tackled by Huddersfield Giants' Tom Holmes, during the Betfred Super League match at the Totally Wicked Stadium, St Helens. PA Photo. Picture date: Friday March 6, 2020. See PA story RUGBYL St Helens. Photo credit should read: Martin Rickett/PA Wire. RESTRICTIONS: Editorial use only. No commercial use. No false commercial association. No video emulation. No manipulation of images.

“That’s been a couple of hurdles to jump over the last three or four days, but I am really looking forward to the opportunity.”

Rankin was aged just 16 when he made his first-grade debut for hometown Gold Coast Titans in 2008 but struggled to gain a regular slot, prompting his first of three moves to Yorkshire clubs with Hull in 2014.

He scored 24 tries in 50 games for the Black and Whites before moving to Wests and, after three tries in 41 outings with Huddersfield, left Castleford with 10 tries in 31 appearances.

“It’s a different game in the UK,” he said.

“Beside the last couple of weeks, the NRL’s had two referees which speeds the game up a lot.

“The six-again rule has been a bit of a different one as well.

“Super League in general is renowned for its attacking game, not so much defensively, but I believe that has changed over the last couple of years there.

“Coming back to the NRL, it’s playing with the best players in the world, there’s no doubt about that.

“I am looking forward to putting my best foot forward at Parramatta and giving it the best shot I can.”

Parramatta general manager of football Mark O’Neill said: “We are all excited to welcome Jordan to our squad for 2020 and 2021.

“Jordan is of sound character and brings over 160 games’ worth of experience in a number of positions across both Super League and NRL competitions.

“He can also kick goals which adds depth and quality to our overall roster.”

Meanwhile, another Australian player is heading home from Super League after St Helens back-row Zeb Taia said he will return at the end of the 2020 season.

Taia, who turns 36 in October, joined Saints in a deal which saw Joe Greenwood move to Gold Coast in 2017 and scored in last year’s Grand Final win over Salford Red Devils.

The former Parramatta, Newcastle Knights and Catalans Dragons forward has scored 21 tries in 95 games for St Helens, whose coach Kristian Woolf said: “Zeb’s been the ultimate professional.

“He is a great person and has had a fantastic career both in the NRL and at Saints.”

Taia, who also represented New Zealand and Cook Islands, said: “Winning the Super League title last season is definitely one of my career highlights.

“I wish the club all the success in the future. Good things however, always come to an end and it’s the right time for me and my family to head home to Australia at the end of the season and prepare for the next chapter of our lives.”

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