'I want to play every week': Muizz Mustapha's pledge after moving from Leeds Rhinos to Castleford Tigers
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The 22-year-old has penned a one-year contract, with an option in the club’s favour for another 12 months.
A former England academy international, Mustapha made his Rhinos debut in 2019 and featured nine times, all as a substitute, including six appearances this season. He scored his only try in a win over Wigan Warriors at Headingley in June.
The Nigerian-born forward spent the 2021 season on loan in the top-flight with Hull KR and has also had short-term spells at Featherstone Rovers, Newcastle Thunder, Dewsbury Rams and Bradford Bulls.
“I’m very excited, it’s a new chapter and I can’t wait to see what the future holds,” Mustapha said of his move to Castleford. “I've been at Leeds since I was a kid so it’s a whole new environment.”
Mustapha is the latest in a long line of players to move from Leeds to Castleford in recent seasons and is expected to be joined there by another Rhinos product, Jack Broadbent, in 2023.
He said: “I know Sutty [Alex Sutcliffe], Mellor [Alex Mellor], Cal (Callum McLelland) and Brad Martin, who I came through the Scholarship with.
“When I spoke to Radders [Tigers coach Lee Radford] he told me about the plans and how the club is looking forward to the future. Everyone else I’ve met so far has been great, genuine lads.”
Mustapha’s Leeds contract ends after Saturday’s exhibition game against New Zealand. He was not offered a new deal, but feels he can go up a level under Radford and his assistant Andy Last.
“Radders was a middle and I’m certain he will help me improve my game,” he said.
“I’ve heard great things about Andy Last too, he’s a very good coach and I’m looking forward to learning from them both.
“I want to play as many games as I can. I think over the last few years I’ve struggled to cement my place in the first team and have a good run of games so I want to be playing every week and get some good experience under my belt. I’m looking forward to putting the shirt on and making the Cas fans proud.”
Radford reckons Mustapha has all the attributes of a top-quality Super League prop.
“I really like how Muizz plays,” he said. “His leg speed, his defence, his line speed is fantastic and he is a different shape to a lot of front-rowers kicking around in the competition.
“There is a niche for what he does, a tidy-up man in and around the ruck, the type of player who will get the best out of someone like Sui [Suaia Matagi] and vice versa.
“We are hoping we can develop him into becoming the player we know he can be.”