Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell 'disappointed' by academy rejection - also looks ahead to Warrington Wolves showdown and reveals Gareth O'Brien's injury setback

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The decision to deny Castleford Tigers an Elite Academy licence is a “mistake”, according to coach Daryl Powell.

Ten clubs - Catalans Dragons, Huddersfield Giants, Hull FC, Leeds Rhinos, London Broncos, Newcastle Thunder, St Helens, Wakefield Trinity, Warrington Wolves and Wigan Warriors - were granted a licence by the RFL.

Tigers will not be allowed to compete in the under-19s competition from next year until 2027, making it harder for them to attract promising young players.

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Tigers say feedback from the application process suggested being among a large number of clubs in a small area counted against them, as did the fact, since 2014, the club has produced fewer first team players than any of its rivals.

Oliver Holmes came through Tigers' academy system. Picture by Alex Whitehead/ Holmes came through Tigers' academy system. Picture by Alex Whitehead/
Oliver Holmes came through Tigers' academy system. Picture by Alex Whitehead/

A club statement described the rejection as “devastating” and Powell fears it will reduce the number of players in the game.

He said: “The player pathway is broken and needs fixing.

“I just don’t think this is the way to fix it – by getting rid of academies.

“It should be about putting more emphasis and focus on academies to develop young players.

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“I don’t agree with this and I just think it’s the wrong way to go about it.

“It’s going to diminish numbers within the sport.”

Eight of Tigers’ initial squad for Saturday's game at Warrington Wolves came through Tigers’ youth system.

Powell insisted: “You go through different periods with player development.

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Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity granted Elite Academy licence but Castleford ...

“There is a really good crop of young players at the club and I think it’s just short-sighted.

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“We’ve had a lean period where we haven’t had as many good players come through the system, but I think this decision is a mistake and it’s disappointing for the club.”

Meanwhile, Powell insisted there will be no divided loyalties when his current side visit the one he will coach next season.

He will be in the spotlight on Saturday afternoon, but stressed: “I’m the Cas coach at the minute and the scrutiny doesn’t mean anything to me.

“I’m not going to get side-swiped by that, I will just focus on our boys.”

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Forward Suaia Matagi, signed in pre-season from Huddersfield, is set for his debut after recovering from a calf injury.

Powell confirmed: “It has been a while waiting for him to make his debut so I’m looking forward to it and I think he is as well.

“He has trained well, so he’ll be on the bench.”

Tyla Hepi, Lewis Bienek and Greg Eden are also included in Tigers’ initial squad, along with the 17 on duty in the defeat by Hull KR five days ago.

Gareth O’Brien is not included and Powell revealed: “He has injured his calf.

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“It’s a disappointing injury for Gaz, he’s a little bit down at the moment.

“He’s going to be out for a while, but we’re not sure how long yet.”

Warrington are without Sitaleki Akauola and Greg Inglis from the team which lost to Huddersfield on Monday.

Rob Butler, Jack Hughes, Tom Lineham, Danny Walker, Nathan Roebuck and Jacob Gannon - brother of Leeds’ Morgan Gannon - are vying to replace them.

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Warrington Wolves: from Austin, Butler, Charnley, D Clark, J Clark, Cooper, Currie, Davis, Gannon, Hill, Hughes, King, Lineham, Mamo, Mulhern, Philbin, Ratchford, Roebuck, Thewlis, Walker, Widdop.

Castleford Tigers: from Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Trueman, Richardson, McShane, Holmes, Milner, Massey, Griffin, Hepi, Clare, Sene-Lefao, Smith, Eden, Matagi, Turner, Bienek, Peachey, Martin.

Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).

Kick-off: Saturday, 3pm.