Castleford Tigers coach Lee Radford keeps quiet on link with Leeds Rhinos pair

Castleford boss Lee Radford has declined to comment on speculation linking his club with two Leeds Rhinos players.
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Tigers are understood to be close to signing Rhinos centre Jack Broadbent and second-row Alex Mellor, who are both out of contract at the end of this season.

Radford described the pair as “both tidy players, [in the] right age bracket”, but insisted: “At present they are obviously Leeds players and I think it would be wrong of me to comment on anybody who hasn’t been announced, or they haven’t announced where they are going.

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“Even players that are with me, I wouldn’t want other clubs commenting on them.”

Rhinos' Jack Broadbent, pictured in action against St Helens this year, has been linked with a move to Castleford. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Rhinos' Jack Broadbent, pictured in action against St Helens this year, has been linked with a move to Castleford. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Rhinos' Jack Broadbent, pictured in action against St Helens this year, has been linked with a move to Castleford. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

Since May 1 clubs have been allowed to approach players in the final year of their contract at a rival side.

Radford said he is happy with how Tigers’ retention and recruitment for 2023 is going, but admitted the inevitable speculation can be a distraction.

“I think this is a difficult time of year,” Radford said.

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Tigers coach Lee Radford. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Tigers coach Lee Radford. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Tigers coach Lee Radford. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“You can have your head turned easily - and you can easily hit some form as well because you’re chasing a contract.

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“It is a time of year when the fans don’t see what’s going on in the background, but so many things can happen that have an impact on your performance.”

Meanwhile, Tigers will be without Gareth O’Brien for Sunday’s game at Toulouse Olympique, but Radford confirmed Danny Richardson is likely to feature for the first time since suffering a fractured neck in the round one loss to Salford Red Devils four months ago.

O’Brien, who has been playing in the halves, has a calf injury and didn’t come out for the second half of last Saturday’s 32-12 defeat by Wigan Warriors.

Danny Richardson could return to first team action this weekend. Picture by Allan Mckenzie/SWpix.com.Danny Richardson could return to first team action this weekend. Picture by Allan Mckenzie/SWpix.com.
Danny Richardson could return to first team action this weekend. Picture by Allan Mckenzie/SWpix.com.

There are no Super League games next weekend, to avoid a clash with England’s mid-season Test against Combined Nations All Stars and Radford said: “Gaz won’t be available for this week.

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“Depending on how his rehab’ goes, hopefully he will be in contention for the week after the international break.

“He hasn’t finished the last three games, but we’ll try and get a good fortnight’s rehab into him and get him fixed up as best we can.”

Richardson has had some game time in Tigers’ reserves and been named in recent initial 21-man squads, without making the matchday 17.

“Hopefully he can come up trumps and be available,” Radford said.

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“I think he has got a really good chance of playing this week.

“He has had a couple of setbacks - different to the neck - so when he has been in the squad he has genuinely been in contention and then pulled up.

“We will be better the more players we have available to us.”

Full-back Niall Evalds remains sidelined by a biceps injury, but is expected to be available for Tigers’ home game against Catalans Dragons on Sunday, June 25.