Castleford Tigers veteran Grant Millington to call time on his rugby career

ALTHOUGH he does not like being called a “legend”, there is not a more apt name for Castleford Tigers’ Grant Millington as he announces his retirement from professional rugby league.

Friday, 27th August 2021, 5:00 pm

The popular Australian prop will head home at the end of this season having first arrived at Wheldon Road in 2012 hoping simply for “an adventure and to see some of the world” for a couple of years.

Millington, who turns 35 in November, has gone on to make almost 250 appearances for Castleford and become one of the greatest overseas players in their 95-year history.

He has helped the West Yorkshire club twice get to Wembley, reach the Grand Final at Old Trafford and lift the League Leaders’ Shield for the first time in 2017, the year he was also named in Super League’s Dream Team.

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Uncompromising and tough, as expected for a front-row, he also has wonderful ball skills so it was no surprise he quickly became a fans’ favourite after joining from Canterbury Bulldogs.

However, after much soul-searching, the dedicated Millington and his family are now ready to return home.

“It was always going to be a tough decision,” he said.

“We came here for two seasons to start with way back in 2012 and hoping for an adventure before moving home and getting on with the rest of our lives.

END OF AN ERA: Castleford Tigers' Grant Millington is to retire from professional rugby at the end of the season. Picture: Richard Sellers/PA Wire.

“It just turned out we enjoyed it so much we’ve been here ten seasons. It was a very, very tough decision.

“I was talking with the club about doing another year and going around again but that didn’t quite work out. So we had a look at a few other options and we were toying with the idea of staying and playing elsewhere.

“But we asked the kids how they’d feel if we stayed or would they like to go back to Australia?

“And they all said back to Australia so that tipped us over the edge to make this decision.

LEGEND: Grant Millington, left, celebrates scoring for Castleford against Salford this season. Picture: Ed Sykes/SWpix.com.

“While it is going to be sad to see it all come to an end it is time to get the family back to their wider family and not only get back to Australia but so they can really get to know their grandparents, aunties, uncles and cousins as you can only speak to them for so long through a screen.”

Millington hopes to return to the side for Monday’s home game against Wigan Warriors after being rested for Thursday’s excellent win at Hull FC, a fourth successive victory which thrust them into the top six play-off places.

Asked how he would like to be remembered by the Castleford faithful, who hold him in such high esteem, Millington admitted: “I still struggle with it.

“I don’t take compliments that well. People are throwing the word ‘legend’ about and it just doesn’t sit quite well with me.

“I don’t see myself like that. I’d just like to be seen as someone who has given their all to the club, worked my hardest and someone who loves this club.

“Everyone knows Cas doesn’t have the best facilities or the most money to throw at players but it’s a place I fell in love with and it’s shown in that I’ve stayed here so many years.”

Millington noted 2017 as a highlight year but also this term when – having missed the 2014 Challenge Cup final through injury – he played at Wembley at last.

He plans to play some “local footy” when he returns home and eventually start coaching.

“Whether it’s coaching my son at Under-7s or Under-8s or I move into the seniors, I’ve done this all my life and it will be a shame for me not to pass on some of my knowledge,” insisted Millington.

“I’ll be involved in rugby league for a long time one way or another.”

Daryl Powell, who has coached Millington at Castleford since May 2013, said: “As a rugby league player, Grant is one of the most intelligent and knowledgeable people I have come across.

“His opinion and understanding of the game is second to none.

“On top of that his skillset, his communication, and his ability to play in different positions shows his class. He has been absolutely phenomenal as a voice in the team and a consistent performer for Castleford, one of the best during my time at the club.

“I would like to thank him for everything he has done. He’s such a consistent family and rugby man, a diamond of a bloke.”

You will not find anyone arguing with that.