VETERAN WINGER Joel Monaghan is enjoying being back in Castleford Tigers’ side, but admits it may only be temporary.
Monaghan, 34, replaced the injured Greg Minikin against Catalans Dragons last week and marked his return with a spectacular try.
He is set to continue in the team at home to Huddersfield Giants tonight, but Minikin – Betfred Super League’s second-top scorer with nine tries, one behind team-mate Greg Eden – could be available for next Thursday’s trip to Wigan.
Monaghan admitted it has been hard having to watch from the sidelines, but insisted: “I am coming to the end of my career and the quality of the young kids we’ve got in the team makes it a bit easier, when you are seeing probably future England centres and wingers ahead of you.
“It is tough because you want to play every game, but I am realistic about my role in the team at the moment.”
Monaghan said the form of Eden and Minikin is “unbelievable: “Greg Minikin will be an England centre in the future and Greg Eden is a freak at the moment, he is that fast and that strong and every time he touches the ball something happens. It is a pretty good backline to be on the end of.”
Monaghan is enjoying being able to pass on his experience to the new generation: “Greg Minikin is not a natural winger. I have spoken to him about a few things, but the strength he’s got for a young fella is unbelievable.
“Coming from an NRL system, we had it drilled into us – he might have missed a bit of that growing up. The more I can pass on before I’m done, the better it is for the club and for everyone. I don’t mind that side of of it.”
A victory tonight could strengthen Tigers’ hold on Super League’s top spot and Monaghan reckons they need to build on the resilience they showed last week, while improving in defence.
“We were 14-0 behind and they had a fair bit go their way at the start, but I thought we showed a lot of guts to turn that around and be leading into half-time,” he said of the win five days ago.
“Huddersfield have got some dangerous players across the park, they’ve got some big forwards and some quality outside-backs.
“We can’t be defending like we did at the start of last week’s game. We have to be better or we’ll get turned over.”
Being in pole position brings new pressure, but Monaghan insisted: “I think we can handle that. The style we play, we can score points from anywhere. There’s a few people been talking about the club, but we can’t buy into that. We’ve just got to go out and do what we’ve been doing in the off-season and the start of the season and just go about our job.”
Oliver Holmes could return from injury tonight and Gadwin Springer is in contention for a recall. Giants are without the suspended Danny Brough and Aaron Murphy drops out from the side beaten by Leeds, with Ryan Brierley, Gene Ormsby, Tyler Dickinson and Sam Wood vying to replace them.
Castleford Tigers: from Hardaker, Monaghan, Webster, Shenton, Eden, B Roberts, Gale, Lynch, McShane, Massey, Millington, McMeeken, Milner, Moors, Cook, Sene-Lefao, Chase, Holmes, Springer.
Huddersfield Giants: from McGillvary, Cudjoe, Gaskell, Brierley, Rapira, Hinchcliffe, Wakeman, Ferguson, Leeming, Ikahihifo, O Roberts, Ta’ai, Clough, Smith, Ormsby, Dickinson, Wood, McIntosh, Mellor.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.