When Castleford signed Jesse Sene-Lefao in October 2016, few were expecting the Samoan international to have the impact that he has had on the club. But, within months he became a firm fans' favourite, not only for his spirited and physical play, but also for the way he conducted himself off the field. A real bubble of energy, Sene-Lefao looks like one of the happiest guys on the planet and has brought a buzz to the club that few players have brought in the past. His contract runs out of the end of this year, but he should be the first on the list for a contract renewal.

Let's take a look at his past, present and potential future.

Early life and early career

Born in Wellington, New Zealand on 8 December 1989, Sene-Lefao grew up in a religious household, regularly attending church.

His family is quite large - he himself has four children - with Jesse being the nephew of former Wests Tigers centre Tim Simona and cousin of North Queensland Cowboys centre Matthew Wright. Sene-Lefao got into Rugby League at an early age, playing his junior Rugby League for the Penrith Brothers before being signed by the Penrith Panthers. Sene-Lefao played for the Panthers' National Youth Competition team in 2008 and 2009, scoring 15 tries in 38 games.

Move to Manly

After failing to make a first-team appearance for the Panthers, Sene-Lefao moved to Manly Sea Eagles ahead of the 2013 season. But yet again game time was limited with the powerful second-rower/prop making only two appearances in the first-team and instead spending most of his time with the Sea Eagles' New South Wales Cup team in 2013.

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It was whilst he was with Manly that Sene-Lefao worked as a doorman at RSL (retired servicemen) clubs in Penrith and Mona Vale, New South Wales.

Jesse had just had a daughter and his first thought was that he needed to work two jobs in order to provide for his newly-extended family. As a jovial character it seems rather an odd occupation for him to have had, but it is no surprise that his first reaction to a troublemaker was to talk to them rather than to use force.

"My job was as an RSA marshal but also as a security guard, so I’d talk to the guy and tell them they were leaving.

“If they fussed up we’d put hands on but the goal was to get them out without using hands. Touch wood, I was pretty good at that!

Whilst at Manly, Jesse played 38 times and scored three tries. Though he had signed a contract extension midway through 2014 to take him to the end of the 2017 season, Sene-Lefao moved to Cronulla at the end of the 2015 season on a two-year deal. After appearing 25 times for Manly in 2014, the rangy utility forward added just 11 more NRL appearances for the Sea Eagles in 2015 - this restricted game time was crucial in his decision to move.

Cronulla career short-lived

If Sene-Lefao thought opportunities were hard to come by at Manly, then he was in for a big shock at his new club Cronulla. The Sharks were a club on the up once more after the supplements scandal and a bottom-placed finish in 2014. In 2016 Cronulla won their first-ever Grand Final, but Jesse found himself a bit-part player with only six appearances to his name.

Determined to make a fresh start, the powerful forward signed with Castleford in October 2016. After hearing of nothing but good things about the club from friends Junior Moors and Ben Roberts - the latter whom he played alongside in the 2014 Four Nations for Samoa - Sene-Lefao snapped the club's hands off.

Perfect fit

From the moment Castleford fans caught a glimpse of Jesse in the 2017 Boxing Day victory over Hull FC they were besotted. For the 34 games of the 2017 season that Sene-Lefao played he ran his blood to water, displaying an enthusiasm and passion on the field matched by very few in the game.

2017 was not just a fantastic year for the Tigers, it was for Jesse too. After being only a bit-part squad member for his two previous Australian clubs - Cronulla and Manly - the Samoan was key in the Tigers' historic season, playing in every game of 2017 whether at prop or second row. The majority of overseas signings take time to settle - indeed, just look at Roberts and Moors - but Jesse threw himself into life at Castleford and took to his new surroundings instantly.

His barnstorming running style and wicked offload has always caused a problem for the Tigers' opponents whilst his ability to hit hard in defence and fearlessly tackle whoever charges at him has endeared the Samoan to the Castleford fans and most pundits.

New contract

Sene-Lefao is out of contract at the end of this season; Castleford need to act quickly if they are going to fend off any interest from circling clubs. He should be the first player to given another deal this year - his energy is infectious and the lift in both the players and the crowd when he takes to the field is remarkable. There is just something about him that makes every Castleford fan smile; in an era where violence is becoming a regular occurrence, it's brilliant to see a person like Sene-Lefao almost restoring faith in humanity. Take his determination to succeed on the field and his glowing presence off it and Jesse is just a superb character and person - he is the sort of player that Castleford need to build their team around.

Having settled in seamlessly at the club and the area with his ever-growing family, Sene-Lefao wants to stay at the Tigers - he has made this abundantly clear. What are Castleford waiting for?