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 - Paul McShane

Leeds Rhinos are back on the road this Friday as Richard Agar’s side prepare to face off against local rivals Castleford Tigers at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle in round eight of the Betfred Super League, kick off 7:45pm.

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2021 so far..

Castleford made a great start to the 2021 season and were unbeaten in their first three matches to sit joint top of Super League with St Helens and Wigan Warriors. A 22-12 defeat to the current league leaders Wigan though knocked the Tigers out of the top three. They followed this up with a straightforward win against Salford, but in their next game a 77th minute try from Jordan Abdull meant they lost 26-22 to Hull KR – revenge for the Robins who had a month earlier been defeated by Castleford in the Challenge Cup courtesy of an extra time drop goal.

In a rematch with their round one opponents Warrington Wolves last weekend, the Tigers lost their second consecutive game as a Gareth Widdop hat trick saw the Wolves win 34-14. For Castleford, Jordan Turner extended his season’s tally to six with two tries down the wing and prop Suaia Matagi, who signed on loan from Huddersfield Giants at the start of the season, finally made his long awaited debut for the club. Daryl Powell though was without full back Niall Evalds, who suffered a sore calf, and hopes to be available this week.

Casteford in action against Warrington Wolves. Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com

2021 Squad

Last Four Fixtures

Top Performers


Jordan Turner

6 Tries (6th in SL)

Try Assists

Niall Evalds

8 Assists (2nd in SL)


Derrell Olpherts

920 metres made (4th in SL)

Dummy Half Runs

Paul McShane

26 Runs from Dummy Half (4th in SL)

Key Player

– Paul McShane in action for Castleford against Warrington Wolves. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

Former Leeds hooker Paul McShane is one of Castleford’s stand out players off the back of a big campaign in 2020. The reigning Man of Steel started to the new season by leading the Tigers to three consecutive wins against Warrington, Leeds and Leigh, assisting two tries against the Centurions and was also included in Shaun Wane’s England training squad last month.

Last week against Warrington, although he assisted Jake Trueman in scoring the opening try of the game, McShane was kept quiet by the Wolves, who had their revenge on their opening round loss to the Tigers in March. Overall the Castleford hooker, made 25 metres from five carries, 29 tackles and three runs from dummy half before he came off with 14 minutes left.

The Captain

Castleford captain Michael Shenton is in his 17th season in Super League and his 14th season at the Tigers. He first made his professional debut for his local side in 2004, losing out to Wigan on his debut, and despite Castleford’s relegation and then subsequent promotion in 2005, the centre was one of the most exciting young players to come through Castleford’s Academy. From 2006 to 2010, excluding 2007 when the Tigers spent another year in the second division, he scored over 10 tries in each Super League season to help the club rise from the bottom to the middle of the League.

At 24-years old, he signed a three year deal with St Helens and went on to feature in the 2011 Grand Final against Leeds. It was the first time the centre had played at Old Trafford for the Super League trophy and scored a try in vain as the Rhinos lifted the trophy for the fifth time. After another year of no silverware in 2012, Shenton returned to the Tigers where he continued where he left off.

In Daryl Powell’s first full season in charge the likes of Shenton, Daryl Clark and Marc Sneyd (on loan from Salford for the season) all had stand out campaigns as the club reached the Challenge Cup Final for the first time since the 1980s and Shenton and Clark earned call ups to the 2014 Four Nations squad. Three years later the Tigers had their best Super League season on record, lifting the League Leaders’ Shield and walking out in their first Grand Final, and Shenton was leading the way.

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 the Leeds Academy system. 2020 Man of Steel McShane came into the Leeds squad in 2009, after signing 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.

Rhinos captain Luke Gale will also come up against his former club. The half back made the switch from the Mend-A-Hose to Emerald Headingley in 2020 after five years under Daryl Powell where he helped the Tigers secure the League Leaders’ Shield and a place in the 2017 Grand Final. Last year, he captained the Rhinos to their first piece of silverware in three years, kicking the winning drop goal against Salford Red Devils.

Last Game vs Leeds at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle

It’s been over a year since the Rhinos last visited the Mend-A-Hose Jungle but the last time Leeds visited their local rivals, Richard Agar’s side won their first match at Wheldon Road in four years. Trent Merrin, Jack Walker and Rob Lui all scored tries for the visitors; Lui scoring his first try in Leeds colours after debuting the week before against Catalans.