Jake Webster Interview

Jake Webster Interview

Castleford Tigers star, Jake Webster, has now been wearing the VOLT+ for over a year and it was about time we sat down with the main man to discuss his career and why he chooses Concave boots when he steps on the pitch to boss his opponents...

How did you first get into rugby?

I started off from a very young age. My Dad used to play, not professional but just a local league, so I used to sit on the side-lines watching him play. So rugby was probably my destiny from a young age. I wanted to be a professional rugby league player when I started school and my Dad let me play when I was 7. From that day on, I know people say, “it's your life-long dream” but it has been since that age, and to fulfil it is pretty special and I’m happy to still be going.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Brisbane, Queensland. Was born in Melbourne. Dad moved us to Brisbane at a young age cos the weather is a lot different out there – a lot more inviting. So I grew up in the city area of Brisbane. Did all my schooling in the central city area, went to Wavell High School, which is a big high school for rugby league there, and so everything went from there.

How have you found settling in England?

The first few years was tough. I could see myself going home very early. I probably spent 6 weeks, and I missed home and was looking to go home. But I stuck it out for a few years and now I see it as home. I’ve got an English partner and we’re having our first baby. So this is going to be my home for the foreseeable future, and I’m really looking forward to it!

Is your whole family into rugby?

Yes, they have been. Dad played, probably had the chance to go professional, when he was a bit younger, but then I came into the picture, my Mum fell pregnant and I think that was the end of that road for him. But then he’s lived it all through me and had a great time. My younger brother also was pretty good, but I think he went the other route, he was smarter and he’s now training to be a heart surgeon. Spent five years at university, he was signed a scholarship with the Broncos at a young age but went down an avenue away from rugby.

Have there ever been any other sports you were interested in or played before?

I used to play everything at school to get out of classes. I think everyone used to play cricket – not saying I was any good at it. We also played touch footy (tag rugby), rugby union, but in Australia it's more of a private school sport, so you needed money to be in rugby union, and the kids were a bit snotty. So I stuck to rugby league and my Dad pushed me through there.

What would you say has been the main hurdle in your rugby career? Has there been a point where you thought you weren’t going to make it?

Yes, when I was coming through school, all the kids were getting picked up by teams, all my mates were getting scholarships and contracts, but I wasn’t. My Dad kept me out of that picture saying “no, you’re not touching my son”. That was a big hurdle for me. There were teams that were interested to have me on their books, but I thought there wasn’t. So it was probably my own demons, thinking I wasn’t good enough, wondering what I was going to do. My Dad was pushing me to be good in school, but I was never really academic. So that was another big hurdle. Once I was getting the recognition, it was about staying there, cos there’s that many young kids that are happy to take your spot and biting at your heels. So that was probably the hardest part of my career. But once I was there, I knew what needed to be done, I was drilled pretty well in the early part of my career – to stay in this game, you’ve got to want it and work hard.

What’s been the highlight of your career so far?

Highlight was definitely representing my country – New Zealand. I didn’t think it would ever happen. But to get that call in 2005 (seems like an eternity ago now) was a pretty proud moment. And to see my old man cry, is something I rarely ever saw so that was probably one of the proudest moments I’ve had in my rugby career. Also this year, I was captaining the team for the first time, and to captain such a great club like Castleford and to get the win as well was even better – that was also a special moment.

The progression from last season to this one has been incredible, what do you think the reason behind the great success is?

We had a lot of injuries last year, so we didn’t have a consistent team out there. We didn’t have Benny Roberts, he was out 80/90% of last season. Our captain was out for pretty much all of it. It was a real tough season for us. This year, we’ve sort of kept everyone on the pitch, everyone’s fit, the training has been fantastic – we’ve all bought into the same goals we’re trying to reach. And it’s all come together at the right time. And we’ve just got to continue it for the next 8 weeks!

Do you think you can go on and win the Grand Final?

Yes. It’s not a cockiness, it’s confidence, we’ve got to believe in ourselves. We’ve done all the hard work up to this point, but this is where the business part of the season is. We’ve got to work harder and harder and make sure our goals are still aiming high. We’re going to be in that game on the 7th, but to get there we’ve got to make sure we ‘dot all the I’s and cross all the T’s’.

Personally, how do you think you’ve performed this season?

Yes, alright. I’ve found it a lot better with Benny (Roberts), he’s back this year and he’s helped me out a lot. I’ve consistently been on the field, a lot more than I have been in past years due to injury. My experience has kept me going and as long as I can continue to help the team, then that’s me doing my job. I’ve just got to keep that up and make sure I lift the trophy for the first time.

Has there been an injury that you thought could be the end to your career?

Yes. A few years ago I had a bad knee injury. It went a bit pear-shaped – It didn’t heal the way it was supposed to. My ACL was getting reconstructed but something went wrong so it wasn’t fixed properly. 4 or 5 surgeries later it was at the point where I just had to put up with it or I would have to retire. So I said I’d give it a go because I wasn’t ready to retire. It was a hard year, coming back after it. My body has adapted and I’m playing some of the best rugby I have in recent years. It's probably been a bit of God-send in where I could rest the rest of my body.

Is there a team you most look forward to playing?

I love playing Leeds. They’ve had the wool over us for a lot of the years but I think we’re starting to get a bit of that joy back the last 2 or 3 years. So it's always a fantastic game, whether we play at Leeds or at home. The fans make the atmosphere hostile in every way and it's great to play in front of.

What’s it been like being Australian born and playing for the New Zealand national team, given the rivalry between the two countries?

It’s a love-hate sort of relationship. New Zealand came about because of my father (he was born in New Zealand). I was brought up just me and Dad, always watching the All-Blacks. That was rugby union but the next best thing was playing for the Kiwi’s. I always had it in my mind that I wanted to represent the country of my Father’s birth – which I held so dearly. This happened in 2005 and to see him cry tears of joy just made everything worth it.

When did you first hear about Concave?

I can’t remember exactly when, but it was around the time I first played for Castleford (2013 or 14) when the PT Classics were out. But I think it was mid last year that I saw all the new boots, and where they’ve come from to now. I was like “wow, they look good”. So I got in contact about trying them out. The first boots I wore were the silver and blue Volts and the black and pink Volts. I tried them out and they felt good so kept them for the rest of the season. The season went well so I’ve stuck with them and I’m really happy.

How did your team-mates react the first time you wore Concave boots?

They were a bit unsure about the pink colour, didn’t think anyone could pull them off – but I was quite happy to wear them. Their opinions changed dramatically since the first day they saw them to now, which is nothing but positive. I’ve got people saying “can you hook me up”, “can you do this, can you do that”, but I just said “you can’t just jump on board during the glory days”. But now Benny and Greg are wearing them and the three us love them. We’re quite happy to prance around in them and let the boys be jealous.

So, you’re a bit of a trend-setter in the dressing room then?

Yes, I think I am. Maybe some think I look a bit funny with some of the colours I wear, but I don’t mind, I don’t get embarrassed to put on a bright colour or something that’s a bit feminine.

What do you think of the new Arctic Flare Pack?

I like them. I love red, it’s an ‘in-your-face colour”, so loving them. Recently I’ve started to love anything black. I used to hate wearing black boots, but then I saw the all-black Halo’s and was like “wow, I’ve got to try these” – so I’ve fallen back in love with black on black.

Outside of rugby, what do you get up to in your free time?

I love walking my dog, I’ve got a French Bulldog, Gizmo. My girlfriend and I are always doing things with him, he’s like our first-born. We just do what average person does, going out for dinners, going shopping, go to the movies, but other than that, I haven’t got too many hobbies. I just try and keep my energy and just chill out.

What/who is favourite genre of music or artist?

It would be R&B definitely. Artist would be, Chris Brown – he’s killing it. I also like a lot of the old slow-jams like Boyz II Men. That’s my go-to when I’m just chilling.

Finally, do you have any advice for any aspiring young rugby professionals?

Don’t do it! Play football! Hahaha! No, my advice is, it’s not for the feint-hearted. People think we just go out and play, but it is tough. You have to give up a lot of things like your social life. But at the other end of the scale, you get a different social life which is something that a lot of people don’t get opened up to. People say sacrifice to make it and get to the top, but when you do, all the hard work is worth it. Stick to it if you think you can do it and it's all peachy after that.

Writen by Concave @ 26/09/2017 07:30

  • Jake Webster
  • Interview