This season has been a bit like Christmas for Castleford Tigers, but unfortunately Santa wants his presents back.
Tigers fans have just been getting used to the idea of their club now being one other teams respect and now there’s a concern it could all be going wrong.
Cas have so far announced one signing for 2015 onwards and a good one it is too. Auckland-born Samoan international Junior Moors will join Tigers next year from Melbourne Storm and the word at MAH Jungle is he could have a similar impact to what Ali Lauitiiti did for Leeds Rhinos a decade ago.
If he is half as good – or as entertaining to watch – then Tigers will have done some very good business. Time will tell and it is obviously difficult for players from Australian competition to adjust to Super League, where the lifestyle and the style of play is very different.
But Moors will be going into a good culture, at a club who – so far at least – have done well this year and where the coach is gaining a reputation for gelling teams together and bringing the best out of his players.
It is a surprise anybody would want to leave Castleford, but a number of their key players are set to ply their trade elsewhere next year. Hull this week confirmed the signing of Marc Sneyd, who is on a season-long loan at Castleford, from Salford Red Devils.
Tigers wanted to keep him, but were outbid by Hull, who are alleged to have forked out a six-figure transfer fee in their on-going search for a play-making half-back.
Sneyd, who is an ace goal kicker as well as a creative pivot, will be a loss to Tigers, as will prop Craig Huby and half-back Jamie Ellis (both apparently bound for Huddersfield Giants), star hooker Daryl Clark (Warrington Wolves) and second-row Weller Hauraki, whose signing has been confirmed by Salford.
Huby and Clark have both played all their career so far at Castleford, but have played some of their best rugby under Powell. Sneyd has been transformed since joining Tigers and the form of both Ellis and Hauraki has been improved by Powell’s coaching.
Whether they can maintain that elsewhere remains to be seen, but as things stand at the moment, none of the players set to leave – and Hauraki is the only departure which has been officially confirmed – is heading to a club higher than Castleford in the table.
Castleford weren’t happy with the way Hauraki’s move to Salford was announced, on social media and apparently without them being notified. That’s why they have yet to confirm the anticipated arrival of London Broncos hooker Scott Moore and second-row Matthew Cook, Featherstone Rovers prop Steve Crossley or half-back Luke Gale, from Bradford Bulls. Now Sneyd is no longer part of their long-term plans, there’s a chance Tigers could move for Melbourne’s Ben Roberts, who has played for both New Zealand and Samoa and has long been linked with a switch to Super League. This year’s form and Powell’s growing reputation has made it easier for Tigers to attract players, but conversely it seems members of the current squad believe the grass is greener elsewhere and perhaps, even internally, Cas aren’t yet regarded as genuine contenders, despite having a Challenge Cup final appearance and Super League top-four spot within their grasp.
Cas are unwilling or unable to splash big amounts of cash, so for the time being they must pin their hopes on Powell continuing to make lightly-regarded players better, while certain other, richer, clubs do the opposite.
AUSTRALIAN BAD boy Todd Carney was sacked by NRL outfit Cronulla Sharks last weekend after a disgusting picture of him appeared on social media.
It was the latest in a series of high-profile incidents involving the talented half-back, who was voted the Australian competition’s top player in 2010.
In 2008 Huddersfield Giants tried to sign him after he was sacked by Canberra Raiders and de-registered by the NRL, following allegations about his off-field behaviour. The deal fell through when Carney failed to gain a visa to play in England. That is likely to prevent any Super League clubs chasing Carney, who could now end up playing rugby union in France.
They are welcome to him. He is an outstanding player, who would go well in Super League, but too often players forced out of Australia for disciplinary reasons end up over here. Everybody deserves a second chance and sometimes it works out, for example Joel Monaghan has been nothing but good for Warrington Wolves and Super League, but Carney has had plenty of chances and has wasted them all. He is hardly a role model and offering a deal to a player like that, under the current circumstances, would damage rugby league’s image.