Written by Callum Walker
After spending all of his career at Salford, Niall Evalds is in unfamiliar territory at Castleford.
Being a new fullback coming to the Jungle, Evalds will fight it out with Gareth O’Brien – who penned his own three-year deal in November last year – for the number one shirt, a battle which the 27-year-old is happy to be a part of.
“Competition for places is always important in any squad – all the top teams have it which makes you a better player.” he told Everything Rugby League.
“You don’t want to get complacent and think you’re guaranteed a spot in the team each week.
“Super League is a long, hard season and you’re going to get injuries.
“For the squad and the team to be able to deal with those injuries and keep everyone on their toes, it’s a good sign.”
The number one has impressed in recent seasons with both his defensive and attacking game coming in for numerous plaudits. And, Evalds was keen to stress that he enjoys doing both.
“They’re both (defensive and attacking) integral to the game and especially as a fullback.
“As a fullback, and you’re on the defensive side, you need to make sure you’ve got the numbers right and it’s a solid line, you’re in charge of that. I take pride in my defence and being safe at the back.
“In attack you’ve got to be that extra link, scoring and assisting tries; it’s an important position nowadays and I take great joy from both.”
Though Evalds has only ever been at one club, settling in hasn’t been a problem. And, it has been made easier by his new teammates.
“My first impressions are really positive; everyone has made me feel really welcome and it’s a real hard-working bunch of lads which is what I expected from playing against them in the past.
“I’m just excited to get training more and get into matches with the boys and show what I can do.”
Showing what he can do is something which Evalds is keen on doing in order to separate him from the successful fullbacks that the Tigers have had in the past.
“I want to play my part in a successful team. Cas have had some really good fullbacks over the years with Luke Dorn and Zak Hardaker.
“They’ve been very lucky in that department but I am my own player and I bring my own style so I will bring something different.
Evalds is particularly looking forward to taking the field with one player in the Castleford team.
“As a fullback, I’m more involved with the pivots and I can’t wait to get out on the field with Paul McShane.
“You can’t get much better than him, the reigning Man of Steel.
“He’s been one of the best hookers around for a long time and I like to play a bit around the ruck, so linking up with Macca, I believe we can have some success with that.