12th September 2018, 14:32 | Huddersfield
The siblings will clash in the fifth round of the Betfred Super League Super 8s on Thursday when Joe’s Castleford Tigers take on Jake’s Huddersfield Giants at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle.
Jake, 19, followed in the footsteps of his brother when he turned professional with the Giants in 2015 but 12 months later Joe left to try his luck in Australia before returning to England with Castleford last year.
“He’s helped me quite a bit in my game,” Jake said. “It will be a weird feeling coming up against him.
“To be honest, I always thought I’d play with him before I played against him.
“It adds to the excitement. It should be a good match-up, although I’m not thinking about it too much, to be honest.”
Joe, 26, who was in the Huddersfield team that won the League Leaders’ Shield in 2013, was at centre for Castleford’s win at Hull last Friday but is expected to switch to the second row to offset the loss of Oliver Holmes with a hamstring injury.
That will rule out a direct confrontation and a chance to make a straight comparison after Huddersfield first-team coach Chris Thorman claimed earlier in the year that Jake was the better player.
“Joe’s always said that but I’m not so sure,” Jake said. “I think we’re two different players.”
After being plagued by a knee injury early in his career, Jake was not expecting to play Super League this year but, after deputising for the injured Leroy Cudjoe, he now senses an opportunity to lay down a marker for 2019.
“It’s been tough to be honest,” he said. “I was out for 22 months with my knee and this year for me was just to get through the season with no injuries.
“I wasn’t expecting to play first team, especially being eligible for the academy, so to get called up and make my debut and score a few tries is a dream come true.
“Hopefully I can play well and put my foot in the door and give them a selection headache.”
Back-to-back defeats in their last two fixtures stalled the Giants’ late-season revival and dashed their top-four hopes but they can have a say in the semi-final line-up with fixtures against Castleford and Wigan Warriors in the next seven days.
“For us it’s about finishing the season well and building for next year,” Jake said. “From where we started, we’ve come on massively and we’ve all said it would be a shame to waste that.”
📽️| Joe Wardle prepares to take on his former side, Huddersfield Giants but has called on all you Tigers fans to continue coming out in force and supporting the players during these final two home games!— Castleford Tigers (@CTRLFC) September 12, 2018
🔗 Full Interview available for free - https://t.co/OZqC9GE4Xa pic.twitter.com/6POnDjaK4P
Castleford have a chance to keep the pressure on second-placed Wigan for a home semi but coach Daryl Powell is wary of the threat posed by Huddersfield, who were 32-18 winners at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle only two months ago.
“We’re going to have to improve on that performance,” Powell said.
“Obviously, the coaching change has made a big difference. Simon Woolford has done a good job and they look like they have a lot of confidence and belief about themselves.”