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Mike McMeeken out to show Castleford what they helped create – by haunting them

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MIKE McMeeken hopes all Castleford’s hard work haunts them – for they were the ones that developed him.

The Catalans forward admits he was wet behind the ears when he left London for West Yorkshire.

Mike McMeeken believes his time at Castleford made him as a player

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Mike McMeeken believes his time at Castleford made him as a playerCredit: SWPIX.COM

Now he is an England regular aiming to inspire the Dragons to go one better than the Grand Final defeats in 2021 and 2023.

And if he stars in a win today, the Tigers can take some of the credit – plus there are more similarities between the mining town and the south of France than you may think.

He said, maybe hinting about his future as he is linked with Wakefield and a reunion with former boss Daryl Powell: “Castleford were massive for me.

“I went up from London as a 20-year-old who was still pretty much a novice to the game ad probably didn’t realise the potential I had.

“But the way Daryl coached made me come out of my shell and made me realise I was a good player – my game improved 10-fold.

“And there was a bit of a language barrier – I don’t think some words spoken in Cas are even English!

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“Heading there from London took me out of my comfort zone. No-one really knows rugby league in London but in Castleford, they live and breathe it.

“So it’s similar to down here in a way, the fans are just as passionate – when there are finals games here, they line the streets and flares are going off everywhere.”

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McMeeken is now a prop by squad number – something he did not think would happen when he lined up at centre when he was younger.

A change of role is not the only alteration, big names like Sam Tomkins and Mitchell Pearce retired while Tyrone May, Matt Whitley and Adam Keighran were among those who left.

But so far it is three wins from four games as boss Steve McNamara’s new era makes a promising start.

McMeken and Catalans hope to make it four wins from five

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McMeken and Catalans hope to make it four wins from fiveCredit: SWPIX.COM

And McMeeken feels there is more to come once the team gets fully used to playing alongside each other.

He added: “It’s been pretty mixed so far. We’re in a good position but we could be better, we were pretty disappointed with the loss at Leeds.

“Winning three from four though – and hopefully four from five – shows we’re on the right track, even though we had t get used to different styles.

“Arthur Mourgue plays differently to Sam at full back but the important thing is Sam’s still in the background and he can learn from the best.

“Only one team can win Super League and our aim is to go back to Old Trafford and go one better. Being involved in games like that only makes you hungrier to be in them again.

McMeeken will weigh up his options for beyond this season before deciding his future

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McMeeken will weigh up his options for beyond this season before deciding his futureCredit: SWPIX.COM

“We also want to secure a home semi-final. Those occasions in Perpignan are huge.”

McMeeken is thinking about where his future lies as he is out of contract at the end of the season.

But part of his conundrum is whether to leave behind the south of France, which now feels like home.

The Hampshire-born star told SunSport: “It’s our fourth year here now and the kids go to school here, they speak better French than me.

“One of the reasons for moving over here is the lifestyle and it’s certainly a very nice place to live but we’ll just see what happens.”

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