Key Signings for 2015: Castleford Tigers

ALL-ACTION: Mike McMeeken takes on his new employers for 2015. + picture:

By Oliver Roby

With pre-season well underway, here’s our look at the 2015 key signings for last season’s Super League success story, Castleford Tigers.

The Tigers enjoyed a stellar 2014, coming within 80 minutes of finishing top of the league before eventually falling at the hands of Warrington Wolves in the play-offs after finishing fourth. Daryl Powell’s men also made the Challenge Cup final in a truly memorable year for the club.

With their unexpected success, player departures were inevitable and the likes of Marc Sneyd and Weller Hauraki left for pastures new, but the club have recruited well ahead of what looks set to be Super League’s toughest season yet.

Utility back Denny Solomona, ex-North Queensland Cowboys hooker Scott Moore, plus back rowers Mike McMeeken and Matt Cook have signed from London Broncos. Half back Luke Gale joins up with ‘Ford from Bradford Bulls while prop Steve Crossley comes in from local rivals Featherstone Rovers. Finally, Junior Moors, a second rower and Ben Roberts, a half back, join from Melbourne Storm.

Ben Roberts

The 29-year-old was recruited by the Tigers to offset the departure of Marc Sneyd, and they arguably have an upgrade in the Samoa international.

Roberts, who began his career with Canterbury Bulldogs, starred for Samoa in this year’s Four Nations, while he boasts 148 NRL appearances plus five caps for New Zealand. Much is expected of the Sydney-born man and the current Cas side has all the ingredients for him to be a success.

Castleford play an expansive style of rugby and have become one of the most attractive sides to watch in the league. Roberts has excellent pace and someone who will be looking to support his ineviatble line-breaks will be the vastly experinced Luke Dorn from full back.

Meanwhile, Ireland captain Liam Finn has excellent organisation skills and arguably has one of the best ‘rugby brains’ in the competition, so should provide the perfect foil as a half back partner for Roberts as the West Yorkshire side look to build on last year’s success.

Mike McMeeken

Junior Moors will take the headlines as Castleford’s most high-profile signing in the pack, but I believe head coach Powell has produced a shrewd piece of business in signing the young back rower.

McMeeken, the latest in a long line of London Broncos youth products to break into Super League, already boasts an impressive frame, standing at 6ft5 at the age of just 20, so has all the physical attributes to became a fine forward with the Tigers.

Luke Dorn, who worked with the youngster as a coach during his time with the Broncos, explains he is a ‘rugby league nut’ who has grown up with the game from a young age – a rarety amongst southern players, and rates him highly. “He’s got massive hands and is a real difficult player to play against. I’m looking forward to playing with him this year,” he said in a press conference earlier in the year.

The Basingstoke-born man was named in League Weekly’s team of the month back in August during what was a difficult year for his London side. In a positive environment and with the right coaching, McMeeken could have a big future in the game at both club and international level.

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