Matt Cook was once hailed on the terraces at the Jungle for the courageous way in which he played the game of rugby league.
Having signed for the club ahead of the 2015 Super League season from relegated London Broncos – where he had been captain – the prop forward was tipped to be a great squad player to have for Daryl Powell in his second full season in charge of the Castleford Tigers.
But, he became much more than that; instead, Cook became one of the Tigers’ most potent strike weapons off the bench, with a heart the size of a lion and a running game that devastated a number of defences in his wake.
And, the 35-year-old could not praise former boss Powell enough.
“Powelly was fantastic to be honest,” Cook told the Rugby League Review podcast.
“When I look back at my time at Bradford, I was very young and raw and I wasn’t the greatest sponge with information at that time.
“It took a couple of moves to Hull KR and then London for me to start growing but it wasn’t until i got to Cas when I started to flourish.
“Powelly brought out the best of me as a player and I learnt a lot about the game being in that environment.”
Cook also referenced that 2017 season, when the Tigers brushed aside all competitors before falling short in the Grand Final against local rivals Leeds Rhinos.
“I look back and think wow I could have done more if I had moved there earlier.
“We had some great success, to win the League Leaders’ Shield in the only time in the club’s history was an unbelievable achievement.
“To play in a Grand Final wouldn’t have been possible without Powell as head coach – you only have to look at where the club was when he took over to where they are now.
“It was so close to being a fairytale season but Leeds had to spoil the party.”
Cook has since retired after playing the 2021 season with the Widnes Vikings.