Future's bright for Castleford Tigers admits Thornton

Under-20s coach Gary Thornton has identified the next generation of players he believes will make the breakthrough into Castleford Tigers' Super League team.

Thornton believes at least nine of the Tigers reserve line-up which won 40-26 at Co-op Championship outfit York City Knights last weekend are capable of going on to play at first-grade level in 2011 or 2012.

"Some of them are going to come through, certainly in the next couple of years, if not this season," he said.

"We've got the likes of Billy Harris, Jonny Payne, Ben Blackmore, Daniel Holmes and Josh Atkinson who have been around the academy system for a while and who will be pushing for a first-team shirt if they continue to develop in the way they are doing.

"Behind that, there's Ryan Backhouse, Sean Pick, Zack Snellgrove and

Sam Orange, who all came up from the under-18s into last weekend's team.

"The way they handled themselves in that game suggests they will be

pushing for a first-team shirt in the not too distant future."

Tigers have introduced a host of youngsters, including Jonathan Walker, Adam Milner, Jordan Thompson, John Davies, Oliver Holmes and Joe Arundel, to first- team rugby over the past couple of seasons, with hooker Daryl Clark the next expected to make the transition.

Thornton said the club is now placing more emphasis on bringing players through from the academy ranks.

"We are fairly lucky that we have got a really good crop of youngsters who are all maturing at the same time," he said.

"Terry Matterson (Tigers' head coach) has bought into the principle that developing your own talent is the way to go.

"Steve Gill (Cas' youth boss) and Terry have put in a lot of hard work, going out to scout talented young players, bringing them to the club and then developing them through their own systems.

"They have done a lot to attract them to the club."

A total of 10 reserves played in the 62-10 home win over York two weeks ago and they backed up that performance with another eye-catching

effort in the Paul Higgins memorial game last weekend.

Thornton, a former Batley Bulldogs head coach, said: "They carried on from where they left off the previous week.

"They were without the influence of Rangi Chase and Danny Orr behind them so were left to their own devices, but they were really impressive again and Daryl Clark did himself no end of good again.

"He had a tremendous game."

Clark is the only Tigers player named in this year's England academy squad.

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