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Crooks driven by Wembley nightmare
Hull's rookie centre Ben Crooks has set his sights on a Grand Final appearance next month to make up for his Wembley shocker.
The 20-year-old capped a tremendous first full season in Super League on Monday by being named in the Dream Team, less than a month after appearing in his first Challenge Cup final.
Crooks' dream appearance at Wembley turned into something of a nightmare as his string of handling errors helped Wigan lay the foundations for a 16-0 win, but he is using the disappointment to drive him on to bigger and better things.
"One of my biggest dreams was to be able to play at Wembley and it was a massive achievement," he said.
"But I wasn't happy with my performance and I wasn't happy coming away with a losing medal either.
"You can't forget about it. It's something I'm going to carry with me for the rest of my career and something I'm going to use to drive me forward."
Crooks scored 19 tries in 18 Super League appearances before damaging ankle ligaments at Bradford in July and was forced to undergo surgery.
He made a rapid comeback in the cup final before missing the last two games of the Super League season as the injury flared up again, but is set to return for Friday's sudden-death play-off against Catalan Dragons at the KC Stadium.
"I've got a chance," he said at the unveiling of the Dream Team at Huddersfield. "If I get through this week without any pain or aggravation in my ankle, I'll be putting my hand up to play.
"I was fully fit for Wembley but they said if I did play it would be sore for a couple of weeks with it being so close to the surgery.
"It's taken a bit longer than we thought but it's starting to settle down now and I'm bouncing back and ready to play.
"We've proved in the Challenge Cup that we can handle knockout games and compete against the biggest teams. We want to get back to another final and come back with something this time."
Crooks' rapid rise through the ranks should come as no surprise given that he comes from distinguished stock.
Son of former Hull and Great Britain forward Lee Crooks and nephew of ex-Castleford and Hull loose forward Steve "Knocker" Norton, there was never any doubt about his chosen career.
"My dad was a massive influence," he said. "I grew up with a rugby ball in my hands.
"I have to pinch myself at times. Playing professional rugby league is something I've dreamt about since I was a kid.
"I didn't want to do anything else and to be able to play on the big stages and get paid for it is fantastic."