CASTLEFORD TIGERS may have found an unexpected solution to their full-back problem.
Tigers have been without a specialist No1 since Zak Hardaker was suspended and then sacked for failing a drugs test last year.
Ben Roberts became Tigers’ last line of defence at the start of this season, but for the past two games he has reverted to his former role of stand-off with Jake Trueman stepping in at full-back.
Trueman, 19, is also a specialist half-back, but has impressed coach Daryl Powell and is set to remain at full-back for tomorrow’s Betfred Super League fixture at Huddersfield Giants.
“He has done an immense job,” Powell said of the teenage prospect. “For a young player to go in there and play as he has at full-back, I can’t speak highly enough of him and what he has done there.
“He’s a tough kid with loads of ability and we’re going to see a lot more from him this season at full-back, I think.”
Half-back Jamie Ellis was dropped to make way for the reshuffle, but is in the 19-man squad for tomorrow. Powell said: “Jamie is a good player and when he came in he started playing outstandingly well, he really pulled our right edge together and then he probably dropped off a little bit defensively.
“The half-back position is really competitive and it’s a tough one. I’ll look at it week on week. We haven’t nailed that right-edge yet, I’m looking for someone to grab hold of that right edge and deliver what we need.”
Eden and off-season signing Joe Wardle are both set to face their former club tomorrow in their first game for more than a month and Gadwin Springer has been recalled to Tigers’ initial 19. James Clare drops out from the side beaten by Warrington Wolves on Monday, along with concussion victim Matt Cook.
Eden signed a three-year contract extension this week and Powell said: “He’s a quality player. He had an outstanding season back at the club last year, scoring tries for fun and hopefully that’s going to continue this year. He just needs to get some consistent game time under his belt now.”
Of Wardle, he added: “Joe is the same, he needs to get some consistent game time under his belt. He will be coming in and wanting to get his season kick-started and play consistently. If he does that he is an outstanding rugby league player.”
Injury-hit Giants are still without scrum-half Danny Brough and Darnell McIntosh, Alex Mellor, Ryan Hinchcliffe and Carlton Roche drop out from the side beaten at Catalans Dragons on Monday. Lee Gaskell, Oliver Roberts, Adam Walne, Tyler Dickinson, Matty English and Louis Senior come into contention.
Powell insisted: “We can’t worry too much about what Huddersfield do. It’s about what we do, we are looking to improve and we know we are tough to beat if we are on our game. It is an interesting challenge and one we are looking forward to.”
Huddersfield Giants: from Turner, Murphy, Gaskell, Ikahihifo, Wakeman, Lawrence, Ferguson, Rankin, Roberts, Ta’ai, Clough, Smith, Walne, O’Brien, Dickinson, English, Simpson, L Senior, I Senior.
Castleford Tigers: from Eden, Ellis, Foster, Gale, Holmes, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, Roberts, Shenton, Springer, Trueman, Wardle, Watts, Webster.
Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.