WATCH - Castleford Tigers v St Helens: New recruit Cheyse Blair hoping for change of fortune

HE sometimes dubs himself the “unluckiest” rugby league player around after what happened with him at Melbourne Storm but Cheyse Blair is certainly enjoying life at new club Castleford Tigers.

The Australian centre arrived at Wheldon Road earlier this month after joining from NRL giants Storm on a three-and-a-half year deal.

He will line up at Anfield in tomorrow’s Magic Weekend game against Super League leaders St Helens.

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Blair – who tasted his first victory in Castleford colours at Leeds Rhinos last week – has settled in well and instantly shown the class that made him a success at Melbourne.

Cheyse Blair.

With them, he featured in the 2016 Grand Final but suffered a bad ankle injury the following July that, ultimately, stifled his progress for Craig Bellamy’s star-studded side.

“I always say it to myself – and it is probably a bit selfish – but I think I must be probably the unluckiest footy player,” said Blair.

“In 2016 I played all year, went to the Grand Final and lost.

“I played half the year in 2017 then broke my ankle and the team went on and won the comp!

“That’s what Melbourne is all about, though; the next man up, whoever steps in can still do a role. They’ve got a big squad and everyone trains as hard as they can to get a spot, but I was unlucky that year.”

Blair’s arrival has been timely for Castleford given former England centre Michael Shenton was just starting a 10 week period out with his own ankle injury.

With his strong-carrying and hard-hitting defence, the 27-year-old has quickly endeared himself to the Tigers faithful.

The transition process has been eased, too, off the field given he has moved in with team-mate and fellow Australian Grant Millington before his own family arrive in the UK.

“I’ve settled in really good,” Blair said.

“I’ve been staying at Millo’s house for the last three weeks since I’ve been here. He has welcomed me in and shown me the ropes.

“The first thing I noticed was he’s a good chef! He’s cooking every night and helping me through the week and preparing for games.”

Castleford will clearly need to do their prep’ for the challenge of Saints who have lost just once all year.

Blair will be up against Kevin Naiqama, the classy Fiji centre who arrived from Wests Tigers at the start of this season.

“I have played against him a few times in the NRL,” he said.

“He is fast, he’s strong, but he’s not as big – I can use that to my advantage. I am looking forward to it.

“I know Joseph Paulo in the Saints side as well. We were team-mates at Parramatta. I spoke to him before moving as well as Jesse (Sene-Lefao) here at Cas.

“I’d played with Jesse at Manly and I talked with (Wakefield Trinity captain) Jacob Miller, too.

“I am good mates with him. I played all my junior footy with him and I’ve known him since I was about 10 years old.

“There’ll be a bit of rivalry when we play each other.”

After receiving positive vibes from all of those, Blair is glad he made the decision to move to Super League.

“Melbourne’s game is built on defence whereas over here it is a bit more free-flowing and they throw the ball around a lot more,” he added.

“I think since I went to Melbourne I’ve turned into a defensive centre, but I still like to get my hands on the ball.

“It has been good so far. I‘m still building combinations – with Truey (Jake Trueman) and Pete (Mata’utia) and learning the plays.

“I am just trying to bring what I bring in my own game to the team. We have got a big task on Sunday; St Helens have been the benchmark all year but saying that, they’ve let some points in the last few weeks.

“We can use that to our advantage and hopefully come away with the win.”

Saints welcome back England hooker James Roby while Castleford bring in Will Maher, Chris Clarkson and Daniel Smith. Sene-Lefao has returned to Australia on compassionate leave and Nathan Massey is injured.