Former England half-back Rangi Chase believes he has found happiness outside Super League after revealing he has endured misery for the last four years.
The former Castleford and Salford favourite, who was crowned Super League’s top player with the Man of Steel award in 2011, was sacked by the Red Devils in October following an internal disciplinary hearing and contemplated quitting the game after becoming disillusioned with it.
Chase was persuaded to drop down a division by Championship club Leigh and he says that has enabled him to regain his appetite for rugby league.
“People think, ‘what’s he doing down there?’ But to me it’s all about happiness,” Chase told Press Association Sport.
“For the last four years, I’ve been miserable and sometimes you’ve got to take a step away. I don’t play for anyone else. This is for me.”
Chase, 29, who is pursuing a case of unfair dismissal against Salford, signed a two-year deal with the Centurions, with an option of a third season at the Leigh Sports Village, and made his first appearance for them in last Sunday’s 26-20 win over Wigan in a pre-season friendly.
“I love the way they play,” he said. “I like the style they play and they look like they have fun. And that’s what I’ve lost over the last few years, waking up and enjoying going to work and playing with a smile on my face. That’s what it’s all about.
“I thought that many times about quitting, walking away from the game.
“But I’ve got two kids and mouths to feed so I had to keep at it because it’s the only thing I’m good at.
“It’s about happiness for me, whether it’s coming down a grade or doing something different, I just want to be happy doing what I’m doing.”
Chase, who began his career under current Salford director of football Tim Sheens at Wests Tigers in 2006, made a big impression at Castleford, where he scored 47 tries in 129 appearances from 2009-13 and caught the eye of ambitious Salford owner Marwan Koukash, who saw the mercurial stand-off as the man to build a new team around.
Koukash splashed out a reported £115,000 to buy Chase out of his contract in September 2013 but he was less than halfway through his four-year deal when it went sour.
“My last year at Castleford, that’s when I started getting frustrated, and the last two years at Salford were tough as well,” Chase said. “Things didn’t go the way they were planned and it took a lot away from the game for me.
“The game was nothing to me, it was just a job, not what I grew up wanting to do.
“It got to the point where I wasn’t really bothered and it wasn’t nice, I wasn’t enjoying it all. I was close to stopping.
“It was a tough time but I had to push through it and now I’m coming out the other end and starting to enjoy training and games. I’m glad I came to Leigh.”
Chase, a former New Zealand Maori representative who controversially switched his allegiance and played for England in the 2013 World Cup, found himself among a host of familiar faces at his new club, who had already persuaded former Wigan second rower Harrison Hansen and two other team-mates Cory Paterson and Reni Maitua, to leave Salford for the Sports Village.
“I think we’re all enjoying it,” he said. “You can’t put a price on that. I’m not bothered what people think. Sometimes you do what you have to do to be happy.
“The way I’m playing suits me, I just want to enjoy it again and play with a smile on my face.
“It’s not about where I play or the ground or the changing rooms, it’s all about being happy, I could play in the car park or the best stadium in the world, it doesn’t matter. I think I’m going to enjoy myself this year.”