Chris Clarkson has revealed that he began working as a bricklayer throughout the toughest off-season of his career, as he searched in vain for a club to offer him a chance in 2019. He admits that now he is on board at Castleford, he’s determined to prove he belongs at the top level.
The former Leeds and Hull KR forward was surprisingly released by the Robins at the end of last season, and alongside former team-mate James Donaldson he spent the winter months hunting for a club.
As he hunted for new employers and the season began to approach, he came close to giving up on a full-time career in the sport, Clarkson has revealed – falling back for a time on his qualifications as a bricklayer, and contemplating life as a part-time player.
“I’d kept my hand in with bricklaying anyway,” he said. “I did a bricklaying apprenticeship after school, so thankfully I do have something to fall back on, which is good. I did a little bit of it recently, but that just showed me I wasn’t ready for it as a life just yet.
“My dad’s a builder, so it’s not something out of the ordinary for me – cold mornings in winter, full days and getting wrapped up – but I’m not ready for that at this point in my career. I knew all the time that I’ve still got to give back in rugby league so I’m glad to be back playing.”
When asked about the possibility of dropping down to the Championship, and playing part-time, Clarkson said: “Yes, it might have been that next, if the Cas deal hadn’t come through. My agent always said to wait until after Christmas. He was certain something would come through and I’m thankful that it did.
“I would have dropped down to the Championship, of course. But I wanted to play Super League and knew I had few good years left in me. I’m happy here. Rugby is what I love doing and I’m thankful I’m still playing.”
Having successfully earned a one-year deal (following a trial with the Tigers) Clarkson is eager to prove his worth to the club straight away – starting with Saturday’s trip to London.
“It would be good to go down there,” he said, “mix with the lads and play, and – if I am selected – show the travelling fans what I can do, and my fellow players and coaching staff as well.”