Aussie signing Grant Millington expects to make his Castleford Tigers bow next month.
The 25-year-old forward is resigned to missing Cas’ Stobart Super League opener at Salford City Reds in eight days’ time, but is confident he is nearing full fitness following the injury which brought his Canterbury Bulldogs career to a premature end.
“I had a shoulder reconstruction late last year,” said Millington, who is Tigers’ highest-profile recruit for 2012.
“I hurt it in round 25 of the NRL. I went in straight away for surgery, but I have come over here and the way they treat the injury is different to back home.
“Back home it is a six-month injury, but here they usually try and get you back in 12 weeks.”
Millington added: “I have come here a little bit behind compared to what I would have been, but in the last three weeks things have come along such a long way.
“I’m really happy with how it is going. All the range, or 90 per cent of it, has come back and the strength has really started to kick on in the last week or so.
“I am really happy and confident in my shoulder and I have no worries with it being okay when the physio says I am ready to go.
“It is hard to put a date on it, but I am probably looking at about some time after round three.
“I am not sure and I don’t want to set a target. I am still a little bit of a while off, but it is going really well.”
Millington had to watch from the sidelines during Tigers’ pre-season programme, which saw them beat Bradford Bulls and Huddersfield Giants before losing to Wakefield Trinity Wildcats last weekend.
Not being able to train fully with his team-mates has been frustrating, but Millington said he has been impressed with what he has seen of his new environment so far.
“I have been especially impressed with the coaching staff,” he added.
“I have come from the Bulldogs where they have got the best of everything facilities-wise.
“But we have got everything we need and I have always thought it is people within the club that make a club.
“The coaching staff at Castleford don’t leave any stone unturned. we have got really good strength people, really good medical people and, obviously, the coaching staff on top of that is the icing on the cake.
“I have been really impressed with the club and the people in the office as well.
“They have helped me out whenever they can and are working hard.”
Millington is in no doubt he has landed in a genuine rugby league town. “Just walking down the street you get noticed a little,” he observed.
“People are really nice, they come up and say g’day and you can tell they have got the Tigers in their heart and that it is something that is really close to them.
“At the trial games, just for a few friendlies, the passion you can see in the crowd is really something.
“That’s something I am really looking forward to playing in front of.”
Millington is one of only four permanent signings brought in by new boss Ian Millward, along with two players on loan.
“We aren’t the biggest squad,” Millington admitted. “This squad reminds me of the Tigers back home, not a big team, but very attacking and a very mobile squad.
“They’ve got a lot of good skills and the squad has got a good mix of kids and more experienced guys.
“When I spoke to Basil (Millward) back in Australia about making my way over, the first thing he said was Castleford is a breeding ground for young talent and since I have arrived I have noticed that, definitely.
“There’s a lot of good kids coming through and they are doing well. That is the way the club is going to move forward, by getting hold of these kids and not letting them go anywhere else, helping them to stay here and progress with their football.”
Meanwhile, former Leeds Rhinos lower grade centre Aston Wilson and new Aussie signing James Grehan will make their first appearance for Tigers in Sunday’s Paul Higgins Memorial Trophy match away to Co-op Championship side York City Knights.
Wilson is having a trial with Cas after being released by Leeds.
Back-rower Sam Orange will make his comeback from long-term injury.
Tigers: Clare, Lipori, Wilson, Grehan, Atkinson, Carroll, Johnston, Massey, Canterbury, Flemming, J Thompson, Siddons, Davies. Subs Reynolds, C Thompson, Lloyd, Orange, Richards, Smith, D Holmes.