Castleford Tigers recruit set to battle former Salford Red Devils teammate for number one shirt
New permanent signing Gareth O’Brien is looking forward to resuming a friendly rivalry with Niall Evalds at Castleford Tigers next season.
O’Brien has signed a three-year contract after initially joining Tigers on loan from Toronto Wolfpack in August.
He will be joined at the club in 2021 by his former Salford Red Devils teammate Niall Evalds and - though O’Brien can also play in the halves - both players have an eye on the number one shirt.
Evalds agreed to join Tigers last spring, before O’Brien’s loan move and the ex-Toronto man admitted: “It will be funny linking up with Niall again.
“He will be thinking ‘there’s me and Gaz again, after that full-back position'.
“He is a great lad, we are really good friends and I am looking forward to getting an opportunity to play with him and or battle for that full-back jersey next year.”
O’Brien impressed during eight appearances for Tigers this year, but reckons he - and the team - will be better after a long pre-season.
Tigers’ squad will have a get together before Christmas and are due to begin full-time training in January.
Betfred Super League is expected to kick off in mid-March and O’Brien said: “A good, solid pre-season can really cement the partnerships you have with certain blokes on the field.
“I think it’s going to be a longer pre-season this time, something like 12 weeks.
“Usually it is a lot shorter than that so it gives us more time to fine tune those combinations.
“I am looking forward to a rest now, but I’ll be ready to go come January when we are back in.”
Of Tigers’ prospects for next year, after their eighth-place finish in 2020, O’Brien added: “In some of the close losses this season, it was our own silly mistakes that gifted the opposition a win.
“They are the ones that are tough, when you’re in a battle for 80 minutes and you just come up short.
“That happened a few times and it can be quite tough to pick yourself up for next week, but that’s something we’ve got to learn from.
“If we can turn those narrow defeats into a win it gives you a whole new burst of energy heading into the next week.”
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