IT HAS been a rocky road at times, but Ryan Hampshire reckons this will be the year when he establishes himself at the top level.
The half-back/full-back is preparing for his second season at Wakefield Trinity, having previously played in Super League for Wigan Warriors and Castleford Tigers.
He scored six tries and 61 goals in 26 appearances during 2018, but admitted he is still proving himself as a top-flight regular.
Hampshire, known as Rocky, said: “I have only signed a one-year deal again, I want to chase those big contracts.
“I am from Wakefield and it is good being here, I want a long deal and I have got another year to prove myself.”
He stressed: “I have been playing since I was 18 and I’ve only just turned 24, I’ve played nearly 100 games now and I still am proving myself.
“I think this is the year that I am going to establish myself – I feel good.”
Hampshire was at full-back when Trinity began their pre-season campaign with a narrow defeat away to Leeds Rhinos on Boxing Day.
He had been expected to sit out the Danny Kirmond and Danny Washbrook testimonial against Hull last Sunday, but was drafted into the squad as a substitute and scored the clinching try after coming on in the halves.
Max Jowitt was the starting full-back against Hull and also had a strong game, setting up what could be an intriguing tussle for the role when Trinity visit London Broncos in Betfred Super League round one on Sunday, February 3.
“I have been playing since I was 18 and I’ve only just turned 24, I’ve played nearly 100 games now and I still am proving myself. I think this is the year that I am going to establish myself - I feel good.Ryan Hampshire
New signing Danny Brough will be first-choice to partner stand-off Jacob Miller this season and Hampshire said: “I finished at half-back last year.
“Chezzy brought Broughy in to improve the team and I ended up at full-back [against Leeds].
“I have just got to get on with it and do the best I can there.”
Hampshire believes he can thrive playing alongside Miller and Brough.
He added: “It is good mixture of styles.
“Broughy is more of a sit back and organise-type of player, while Milky [Miller] is a runner and I am an all-out runner. We have got a good mix there, we should complement each other.
“We’ll keep working in training and we’ll get there and get some combinations going.”
Hampshire had an injury scare in the game against Leeds, but proved his fitness last weekend and is confident of being available for the opening-day trip to London.
He revealed: “I thought I had broken my hand in the Leeds game, it went numb, but I’ve only cracked a finger and I’ll be fine for the start of the season.
“In pre-season when you get injuries you’ve just got to manage yourself to get ready for the start of the season because you don’t want injuries lasting all year.
“You need to get it sorted.”
Chester was not totally happy with Trinity’s performance against Hull despite the result.
He has warned his players they need to step up their game before the real business begins, but Hampshire is confident last year’s fifth-placed side will be a force to be reckoned with.
“When I used to play for Wigan and then I went to Cas you used to look at Wakefield and say ‘right, we’re going to win here’,” he said.
“You’d turn up not half-hearted, but thinking you were going to win.
“The transformation this club has undergone in the last three or four years is unbelievable. Now teams are going to have to come here switched on.”