After the 2019 campaign ended in a disappointing defeat to Salford in the playoffs, Daryl Powell will be looking for improvement in his side from his new signings for a run to the Grand Final and the Challenge Cup.
Having lost Luke Gale to Leeds Rhinos, Danny Richardson comes in as the key signing this season. Seemingly surplus to requirements at St Helens, Richardson signed for Castleford to combine with Jake Trueman in a young and exciting half-back partnership that fits into the ‘Classy Cas’ mould of rugby. Having shown exceptional skill and poise throughout his time at St Helens, he’ll be a welcomed addition to a side that seemed to lack some direction last year, yet finished off the season well in fifth.
Richardson undoubtedly has the capabilities to guide their robust pack around the park, providing points alongside Trueman and ultimately take them to the next level and achieve another Grand Final for the club. He was seen to step up on numerous clutch occasions in his time at Saints – most notably with a 50+ metre goal to win against Warrington in Round 23 of 2018 season – so he is certainly one you want on your side at the death and on the big occasion.
ARRIVALS: George Griffin (Salford Red Devils), Tyla Hepi (Toulouse Olympique), Derrell Olpherts (Salford Red Devils), Sosaia Feki (Cronulla Sharks), Danny Richardson (St Helens).
The majority of Castleford’s leavers this off-season were on the fringes of the full strength first team squad with the most notable departures coming in Mitch Clark, Greg Minikin, and Luke Gale. The latter of which will undoubtedly be a huge loss to thew club after five years of service at the Tigers – although his final year was spent watching from the stands.
An England international, Gale was the keystone to a rampant Castleford attack that showcased some of the best free flowing rugby league in the competition. He will now look to transfer that play-making ability to Leeds off the back of a dire injury that ruled him out of the 2019 season in which Castleford certainly missed him – that said, Daryl Powell’s men managed a playoff berth in finishing fifth without Gale’s input all year and can now look forward to building on it with another premier play-maker in Danny Richardson.
DEPARTURES: Cory Aston (London Broncos), Mitch Clark (Wigan Warriors), Chris Clarkson (York City Knights), Luke Gale (Leeds Rhinos), Tuoyo Egodo (London Broncos), Will Maher (Hull Kingston Rovers), Greg Minikin (Hull Kingston Rovers), Jake Sweeting (Featherstone Rovers)
1. Jordan Rankin, 2. Derrell Olpherts, 3. Peter Mata’utia, 4. Michael Shenton (captain), 5. Sosaia Feki, 6. Jake Trueman, 7. Danny Richardson, 8. Liam Watts, 9. Paul McShane, 10. Grant Millington, 11. Oliver Holmes, 12. Mike McMeeken, 13. Adam Milner, 14. Nathan Massey, 15. Jesse Sene-Lefao, 16. George Griffin, 17. Alex Foster, 18. Cheyse Blair, 19. Daniel Smith, 20. Junior Moors, 21. James Clare, 22. Jacques O’Neill, 23. Matt Cook, 24. Tyla Hepi, 25. Greg Eden, 26. Callum Turner, 27. Lewis Peachey, 28. Brad Graham, 29. Joe Summers, 30. Robbie Storey.
WHAT TO EXPECT
Castleford kick off the season with a well balanced opening five games against Toronto Wolfpack (A), Wigan Warriors (H), Catalans Dragons (A), Wakefield Trinity (H), and Hull KR (A). Their first five games are unbalanced in the favour of away games, although their season opener against Toronto will be played at Headingley, which is essentially a neutral ground for the pair. Their opener against the Wolfpack should be a comfortable victory, however the ensuing clashes against Wigan, Catalans and Wakefield will throw some form of light on the shape of their season. two from three wins through the period would get the Tigers off to a great start and undoubtedly make them a comfortable mark for a top four spot. Such a start is well within their reach and given their robust forward pack along side an impressive backs division, they should be able to make a run for the Grand Final.
Leading Tryscorer: Sosaia Feki
Leading Pointscorer: Danny Richardson
Player of 2020: Liam Watts