CASTLEFORD TIGERS boss Daryl Powell is expecting big things from loan ranger Ryan Hampshire.
The 20-year-old Wigan Warriors full-back/half-back will spend the 2016 season at Tigers.
Hampshire is from Normanton and a product of the local Knights community club and has made 25 Super League appearances for Wigan since his debut in 2013.
He has signed a new contract with Wigan until the end of 2018 and the loan deal includes an emergency clause allowing them to recall him in the event of a “significant” injury to one of their half-backs or full-backs.
As part of the clause, Hampshire would return to Castleford when the injured player regains fitness.
Powell said: “I am delighted Ryan has agreed to join us, in what is a crucial year in the team’s further development.
“He will provide great competition at half-back and full-back. His speed and elusive qualities will really add to our team’s attacking threats.”
Hampshire said: “I’m delighted to be spending 2016 back in West Yorkshire with the Tigers and being around my family and friends a lot more.
“The chance to work under Daryl Powell and play regular first team rugby is really exciting.
“I’m looking forward to meeting up with my new teammates and being in a new environment.”
The move came on the day Wigan revealed their newly re-signed full-back Sam Tomkins will be sidelined until Easter following knee surgery.
Their rugby director Kris Radlinski said: “We considered extensively the option of Ryan replacing the injured Sam Tomkins, but decided against that route in view of Ryan’s clear positional preference and the development benefits of a full year at Castleford.
“Castleford are a professional, caring club and we are confident they will look after and develop further one of our future stars.”
Hampshire is keen to play at half-back and that is where Wigan see his long-term future.
Radlinski added: “We are well covered for the next 12 months in his preferred positions with George Williams, Matty Smith and Sam Powell fighting it out for the half-back spots and with young Jake Shorrocks returning from injury in March to add further competition for places.”
Warriors chairman Ian Lenagan believes the deal will benefit both clubs, as well as Hampshire.
He said: “Ryan is too good a player not to be playing regularly, which has led to some frustration on his part and on the club’s part.
“Because of the absence of a reserves grade, he played only four games in the last 18 weeks of the season, which is simply not enough for a player of his calibre.
“We believe Ryan has a major future with Wigan at first team level and we have moved to address the problem in a creative way which is good for the player’s development and good for the club. It also allows Ryan to show his capability in his preferred half-back role.
“This solution means Ryan gets the opportunity to earn game time at a strong Super League club with an excellent head coach; Castleford get a very good player for 12 months and Wigan will see the benefit of this when he returns to us in 2017.”