HIGHLY-RATED TEENAGER Jake Trueman is learning that being a top-flight half-back is as much about using his vocal cords as his footwork and passing skills.
Trueman scored two superb individual tries in a 42-10 win over Leeds Rhinos five days ago which will send Castleford Tigers into tonight’s Betfred Super League fixture at Salford Red Devils in high spirits.
Injuries to Luke Gale and Ben Roberts have given Trueman an extended run in the side and he will shoulder even more responsibility with Jamie Ellis not in tonight’s squad.
The 19-year-old insisted: “I am loving it, it is all about experience, just getting in the first team and learning from it. I’ve played a lot at half now which is the position I want to play. That’s important and it’ll set me up for years to come.”
Trueman was tried at full-back earlier in the season, but stressed: “I definitely prefer playing half. I have never played full-back before this season and I do see myself as a half-back long term.”
That means making himself heard and issuing orders to older and much more experienced team-mates. He admitted: “It can be difficult sometimes, having the confidence to tell players who have been around the game a long time and been at the top level what to do, but that’s part of your job. It’s what you’ve got to do as a half. It’s something I am learning to do and I need to go to that next level and be more dominant if I want to be a good player.
“They respond well, if you’re dominant and tell them what to do. You can’t ask them nicely when you’re out on the field, otherwise it won’t work. That’s what I’m learning.”
The derby defeat of Leeds was the perfect response following a 44-16 loss at Catalans Dragons the previous week and Trueman recalled: “We started a bit slowly, but we picked up and we got there in the second half. We started completing our sets, which helped in the heat.
“You burn out if you’re not completing sets and you’re making errors and giving them the ball. It is so much harder defending, it really takes it out of you.”
With three games left before the Super-8s Trueman reckons Tigers are in good shape.
“We are going well at the minute and we are starting to get a few players back as well,” he said. “That’s competition for places and they are fresh coming into the final part of the season. We are in a good place, but we need to be consistent.
“A few times this year we’ve put in a really good performance and not backed it up with the points the next week. We’ve got to do that, we’ve got to go [to Salford] with the right attitude and get another win. If we complete and we’ve got the attitude to go set for set with teams we should be fine.”
Ellis and Nathan Massey have dropped out from the Tigers side which beat Leeds. Joe Wardle could return from injury and Tuoyo Egodo, Kieran Gill and Gadwin Springer are also in contention.
Luke Burgess, Craig Kopczak, Ben Nakumbuwai and Levy Nzoungou could feature for second-bottom Salford Red Devils, who were beaten 52-22 at Hull Kingston Rovers last week. Greg Johnson and Logan Tomkins make way.
Salford Red Devils: from Sa’u, Lui, Kopczak, Jones, Flanagan, Tasi, Lannon, Burgess, McCarthy, Nakubuwai, Wood, Olpherts, Mossop, Bibby, Nzoungou, Murray, Shorrocks, Chamberlain, Burke.
Castleford Tigers: from Clare, Clark, Cook, Eden, Egodo, Gill, Holmes, Laulu-Togaga’e, McShane, Millington, Milner, Moors, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Springer, Trueman, Watts, Wardle, Webster.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.