Opposition Overview: Castleford Tigers

Picture by Jack Wray/Super League Europe/via SWpix.com - 06/03/2021 - Super League Season 2021 Pre Season Location Video Shoot and Stills Photography Portraits. Castleford Tigers - Joe Trueman

After kicking off the new Betfred Super League season with victory over Wakefield Trinity, Leeds Rhinos prepare for one of the stand out games of the season this Friday against Castleford Tigers at the Totally Wicked Stadium, kick off 3pm.

Ahead of the game we have the lowdown on our opponents. Don’t miss the game which is live on Sky Sports Arena.


2020 Recap

Compared to Play Off finishes in previous years, last year was under par for Castleford Tigers. Finishing eighth with six wins from 16, it wasn’t the great end to the season that fans expected from Daryl Powell’s men. A breakout of coronavirus had a major impact on the squad towards the end of the season, ruling a number of players out, as well as injury, including young half back talent Jake Trueman.

From the first seven games, it was normal service for the Tigers, winning four of their opening games against the likes of Wigan, Wakefield and the Champions St Helens. They were in the top four places once again but due to COVID, the season was shut down. From the restart, Castleford just weren’t the same team, winning only two matches over the next three months against Hull KR and Salford Red Devils.

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 15/03/2020 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League – Castleford Tigers v St Helens – Mend-A-Hose Jungle, Castleford, England – St Helens’ Tommy Makinson runs in for a try despite the tackle attempt by Castleford’s Jake Truman.

Although the Tigers may have been struggling on the field, 2020 was the year for hooker Paul McShane, who was in a different class. Finishing as Castleford’s top tackler, top dummy half runner and ‘Mr Reliable’ among the Tigers team, he was voted as the Steve Prescott Man of Steel, becoming the fifth Castleford player to win the award.


2021 Squad


First Four Fixtures

Yet again, Castleford have started the new season strongly, taking apart Warrington despite a number of injuries forcing Powell to reshuffle his team. Next up is Leeds, who also started the season with a win of over Castleford’s local rivals Wakefield on Saturday. After that, the Tigers make the trip east to play Hull KR in the third round of the Challenge Cup before returning to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle for the first time in 2021 to take on the newly promoted Leigh Centurions, who they beat 44-16 at the start of the 2017 campaign.


Key Players

Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com – 28/03/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League – Castleford Tigers v Warrington Wolves – Emerald Headingley Stadium, Leeds, England – Castleford’s Niall Evalds scores a try.

New signing Niall Evalds was a stand out performer in Castleford’s win over Warrington at the weekend. Working as part of a strong spine with Gareth O’Brien and Jake Trueman, the Salford import had a stand out performance, scoring his first try for his new club as well as setting up two others in the 21-12 win over Warrington.


New Signings

Ins

  • Jordan Turner (Huddersfield Giants)
  • Niall Evalds (Salford Red Devils)
  • Suaia Matagi (Huddersfield Giants on loan)
  • Lewis Bienek (Hull FC)

Outs

  • Mike McMeeken (Catalans Dragons)
  • Bailey Hodgson (Newcastle Knights)
  • Lewis Carr (Dewsbury Rams)
  • Calum Turner (Newcastle Thunder)
  • Matt Cook (Widnes Vikings)
  • Junior Moors (Featherstone Rovers)

The Coach

In his final year as Tigers head coach, in his time at the club Daryl Powell has lifted the club from relegation contenders to League Leaders’ Shield winners during his eight year tenure.

Powell formerly played for Sheffield Eagles, Keighley Cougars, Balmain Tigers, Gold Coast Seagulls and Leeds, winning the Challenge Cup with the latter. While at Keighley, he played as a player coach before joining Leeds in 1997, where he was later appointed head coach in 2001. He took the Rhinos to a 5th, 4th and 2nd place finish over the next three years and also reached the Challenge Cup Final again in 2003, which Leeds lost to 22-20 to Bradford. Tony Smith replaced him for the 2004 season and it wasn’t until 2008 that Powell started coaching again with Featherstone Rovers. In 2013, he was announced as Castleford’s new head coach and has since gone on to lead the club to a Challenge Cup Final appearance in 2014, a Grand Final appearance in 2017 and the League Leaders’ Shield in the same season.

Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com – 07/02/2019 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League – Hull FC v Castleford Tigers – KC Stadium, Kingston upon Hull, England – Castleford coach Daryl Powell

Speaking after his side’s win over Warrington, Powell said: “I thought we played really well. We lost Gareth O’Brien in the first half so that throws you a bit out of sync losing a half back. That then pulls our nine out position so that made it a little bit awkward for us. I thought we were really good value for the half time lead but we were a little bit slow coming off our own line in the second half but I thought we showed a lot of character, resilience with the changes throughout the game but we just had to do what we had to win.”


Returning Faces

Three members of Castleford’s 2021 squad could face their former side on Friday night. Paul McShane, Alex Foster and Daniel Smith all came through Leeds’ academy system. 2020 Man of Steel McShane came into the Leeds squad in 2009, after coming through from local club Hunslet Parkside. The hooker played 55 times in a Leeds shirt, scoring 12 tries, before being swapped to Wakefield Trinity for Paul Aiton. He later joined Castleford in 2015.

Alex Foster was picked up by the Tigers during their table topping 2017 season, four years after the forward was released by the Rhinos. He missed out on selection for round one after suffering a bicep injury in Adam Milner’s Testimonial match. Daniel Smith, brother of Leeds forward Cameron, didn’t play game for the Rhinos but could also feature in Friday’s game.

Jay Pitts in action for the Rhinos in 2011. PICTURE BY VAUGHN RIDLEY/SWPIX.COM

Luke Gale will also face his former club but on the Rhinos side of the field. The half back made the switch from the Mend-A-Hose to Emerald Headingley for 2020 after five years under Daryl Powell. He spoke to the press this week about the upcoming game against Castleford and more about his former coach. Click here to watch.


Last Game vs Leeds

After the initial fixture was postponed due to an outbreak of coronavirus in the Castleford camp, Leeds continued their drive for a top four finish with a 28-24 win over the Tigers at Emerald Headingley. Nine days after lifting the Betfred Challenge Cup, the Rhinos edged their local rivals on home turf thanks to a late tries from Tom Briscoe and Rhyse Martin. Liam Sutcliffe, Ava Seumanufagai and former Castleford half back Luke Gale also added to the Rhinos scoreline; Martin adding four goals.

You can watch more classic matches against Castleford at the Emerald Headingley, click here to watch on YouTube.


More Information

Rugby League fans are being urged to buy ‘virtual tickets’ for this weekend’s round of Betfred Super League action as the sport comes together in a huge fund-raising effort to support Mose Masoe.

How to buy your ‘virtual ticket’ 

Text 70085 and;

5MOSE to donate £5

10MOSE to donate £10

15MOSE to donate £15

20MOSE to donate £20

Texts cost amount donated plus one standard rate message