Hookem backed to make Tigers impression

ANDY LAST has backed Jacob Hookem to make the most of his opportunity this season at Castleford Tigers.

The 20-year-old halfback signed an initial one-year deal with the club following his departure from Hull FC, where he came through the youth ranks.

Last saw Hookem’s progress at first hand while on the Hull coaching staff, and he watched his first-team debut from the opposing side as a Wakefield Trinity coach when the youngster made his bow at Belle Vue in the final game of the 2021 season.

Hookem went on to make a further four appearances for Hull last season, and also spent time on loan at both Whitehaven and Bradford Bulls, playing ten Championship games altogether, while also having played five Super League games while at Hull.

Castleford head coach Lee Radford expects Hookem to provide competition for experienced halves and fellow new arrivals Jacob Miller and Gareth Widdop this season, while Danny Richardson is sidelined long-term by injury, and Last believes he can do that.

“I know Jacob well from my time at Hull FC and Danny Wilson (Castleford’s head of rugby and development) has spent a fair bit of time with him in their youth system there,” said Last.

“He had an outstanding last game of the season in 2021 against Wakefield. I was assistant at Wakefield at that time and Jacob was probably the best player on the pitch that night for Hull, albeit on the wrong end of a fairly hefty scoreline.

“He showed some nice touches in that match. He’s a real competitor and he works extremely hard at his game.

“The big thing with Jacob is that he’s got a really good mentality. He competes hard, stays out and does plenty of extras.”

Hookem made his Castleford debut on New Year’s Eve as a youthful side were beaten by Featherstone Rovers, and he will hope to feature this Sunday, January 22, in their second pre-season game at Keighley Cougars.

“He probably played a little bit erratically in the first half but we got some messages to him at half-time and I thought he controlled the second half really well,” reflected Last of Hookem’s bow.

“There’s an opportunity there and what he did (against Featherstone) will stand him good stead moving forward.”

This article comes from this week’s issue of League Express. You can take out a subscription by going to https://www.totalrl.com/league-express/