CASTLEFORD TIGERS assistant coach Danny Orr admits covering the 42 tries Denny Solomona scored last season will be a difficult task but insists they have a habit of coping admirably without star players.
The Samoan winger was Super League’s top try-scorer this year and also broke St John Ellis’ 22 year-old club record for the most in a campaign.
However, Solomona has since walked out and joined Sale Sharks in a controversial move which has seen Castleford launch legal proceedings against both parties and the player’s agent.
As they prepare their case, the coaching staff must prepare for life without the prolific wideman, too.
“Replacing 42 tries is always going to be difficult especially at this late stage as quality wingers like Denny are just not available,” Orr told the YEP.
“But we’ve been fortunate that we’ve managed to get Zak (Hardaker) in there who can play wing as well as full-back.
“I’m sure we’ll be okay. This club has lost some unbelievably good players the last few years. You can go back to Rangi Chase and Daz Clark who were both Man of Steel and Justin Carney who scored tries for fun.
“But we just tend to find a way that works for us. Our left wingers in the last couple of years have had some great players inside them and the way we play if you’re on our left wing you’re probably going to score tries.
“Justin scored some unbelievable tries that only he could score because of his strength, Denny did with his agility and speed, but we just find a way regardless and I’m pretty confident if we play to our ability next year our left winger will be easily towards 20 tries which is pretty tough to do itself.”
New signing Greg Eden and Hardaker – both primarily vying for the full-back slot – are able to play wing along with ex-Australia Test star Joel Monaghan, possibly Kiwi veteran Jake Webster and youngster Ash Robson, back after missing most of 2016 after a knee reconstruction.
With Samoan stand-off Benny Roberts also fit again and able to play No1, the battle to replace Luke Dorn, the classy Australian who has now returned home, is just as fascinating.
Orr admitted: “We’ve got three quality players – all different kinds of players but all worthy of that number one shirt and all pushing each other.
“We all know Benny can do it as he’s played there and done a very good job.
“Greg’s been in and out of full-back over the last two years as he’s been playing more wing (for Brisbane Broncos) and done really well there so you could look at moving him.
“And then you’ve got Zak who a couple of years ago won Man of Steel at full-back so he’s one of the best in the competition.”
Furthermore, Orr has been impressed with ex-England star Chase, his former half-back partner who re-joined Castleford last July after time out of the sport with depression.
He won Man of Steel in 2011 with Castleford before an ill-fated move to top flight rivals Salford Red Devils but is benefitting from a full pre-season under his belt.
Orr said: “He showed flashes last season but needed this to get his body to where he needs to be. He wasn’t as fit as he knew he needed to be but he’s had a brilliant pre-season. The last three weeks he’s really kicked on and is back to the Rangi I used to play with. He’s got that buzz about him. He’s a pleasure to watch when like this.”