Ryan Hampshire on Castleford Tigers switch, second debut and contract situation

As he trained alone throughout the winter, Ryan Hampshire wondered whether a Super League offer would ever come.

Ryan Hampshire takes the ball in against Hull KR. (Picture: SWPix.com)
Ryan Hampshire takes the ball in against Hull KR. (Picture: SWPix.com)

The versatile full-back was left unemployed after his contract with Wakefield Trinity expired at the end of last year but he vowed to be patient in his search for a new club.

Hampshire made it clear he would only consider Super League offers and stayed true to his word through to the start of the 2022 season and beyond.

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His patience and fortitude was eventually rewarded when Castleford Tigers came calling in March.

“It was hard,” Hampshire told The Yorkshire Post.

“I was getting offered different stuff but never anything I wanted. Some clubs came in and said they’d offer me something and then all of a sudden they’d go quiet and a month later they’d come back and say the same thing.

“It was getting to the point where I thought it might not happen. I can remember one Friday night when I needed to do one more running session and it was during one of the storms. I was thinking, ‘It’s hard doing this on my own and I hope it pays off’.

“There was always a part of me that thought something might happen and then all of a sudden it came off and I was back into it.

Ryan Hampshire spent several weeks watching from the sidelines. (Picture: SWPix.com)

“It wasn’t a relief because I never got to the point where I was desperate but I was happy that something came up.”

It was something of a homecoming for Hampshire after enjoying a loan spell with the Tigers in 2016.

But he had to dig deep into his mental reserves again when he was injured on his return to action, ruling him out for the best part of two months.

“I’d been waiting so long to get a club and then I broke my hand straight away in a reserves game,” he said.

Ryan Hampshire celebrates a try at the 2021 Magic Weekend. (Picture: SWPix.com)

“You couldn’t write it but once it happens you’ve just got to get on with it.

“Maybe it was the best thing for me and maybe I wasn’t quite ready to play. Having an extra six weeks to train was maybe the right thing for me.”

Hampshire made his long-awaited second debut for the Tigers last Sunday, helping Lee Radford’s side to a commanding 32-0 victory over Hull KR.

The 27-year-old wasted no time in reintroducing himself to the Wheldon Road faithful with an impressive all-round performance - but he insisted there is a lot more to come.

Ryan Hampshire touches down against Salford. (Picture: SWPix.com)

“Obviously it was eight weeks later than I thought but it was really good,” said Hampshire on his first Super League outing since last September.

“The team played well so it was a good game to come back to.

“I felt good lungs-wise and thought I did some good stuff. There’s a lot of improvement still left in me - a good 30 or 40 per cent.

“I’ll be looking to get to that in the next few weeks but I was happy with my first game in eight months.”

After waiting so long for a Super League return, Hampshire could be forgiven for having one eye on his contract status with only a few months remaining on his short-term deal.

He could potentially be left in limbo again at the end of the year but he is relaxed about the situation.

“To be honest, I’m not thinking about that,” added Hampshire.

“I’m looking to play my best every time I play and the contract stuff will take care of itself.

“I’m really enjoying it at the minute under Radders. He’s straight to the point but other than that he’s someone you can have a good laugh with and talk to about stuff.

“It’s really important having a good relationship with your players because when it comes to tough parts of the season you know they’re going to turn up for you.”

The rout of Hull KR made it five wins in six Super League games for the Tigers, a run of form that has taken Radford’s men into the play-off positions.

After blowing away the cobwebs, Hampshire is targeting an extended run in the side in the absence of first-choice full-back Niall Evalds.

Looking longer-term, the former Wakefield man is hoping his personal and team ambitions align.

“Our goal is obviously the play-offs like most teams and then you set new goals from there,” said Hampshire.

“My goal is to stay in the team and be content in the way I play.

“I want to help my team make the play-offs and then finally get a deal.”