Why Bureta Faraimo’s move to Castleford Tigers feels familiar

WHEN it comes to his options for wingers in 2022, Castleford Tigers head coach Lee Radford truly finds himself spoilt for choice.

By Dave Craven
Friday, 10th December 2021, 6:45 am
Castleford Tigers' off-season signings, from left, Mahe Fonua, Kenny Edwards and Bureta Faraimo. Picture: Castleford Tigers/Elite Pro Sports.
Castleford Tigers' off-season signings, from left, Mahe Fonua, Kenny Edwards and Bureta Faraimo. Picture: Castleford Tigers/Elite Pro Sports.

The West Yorkshire club already had established Super League professionals Derrell Olpherts, Greg Eden and James Clare on their books when the ex-Hull FC chief took over from Daryl Powell in September.

But Castleford also boasted Jordan Turner, the former St Helens centre/stand-off who reaped dividends when operating as a makeshift winger last term, scoring 17 tries in just 20 games following his switch from Huddersfield Giants.

Plus, when you consider teen sensation Jason Qareqare scored a stunning solo try just 44 seconds into his debut against Hull in June, you can see why you would think Radford would not be too concerned with the depth of wideman at his disposal.

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However, ahead of his first season in charge, he has, of course, added not one but two more wingers to the mix.

Radford secured Bureta Faraimo from his former club Hull on a two-year contract and then, in October a surprise deal to bring another Airlie Bird he knows well - Mahe Fonua - to Wheldon Road was also revealed.

Admittedly, Fonua - who twice won the Challenge Cup under Radford at Hull - can also operate at centre, where his rip-roaring style and form earned him a Dream Team place during his Super League debut campaign in 2016.

With Pete Mata’utia having followed Daryl Powell to Warrington Wolves and legendary Castleford captain Michael Shenton now retired, Radford may see the 28-year-old Fonua as more likely fitting in at centre, especially if he can recapture some of that devastating form initially seen when the Tonga international first moved to the UK. That said, Tigers have recruited in-form centre Jake Mamo from Warrington and Turner will also hope for a return to his more familiar position so Fonua will not have a simple task there either.

Hull's Bureta Faraimo in action last season against his new club Castleford Tigers. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe/JPIMedia.

Faraimo, meanwhile, knows full well how tough competition will be for one of those spots out wide.

Olpherts, 29, was a regular last term, scoring 10 tries in 24 outings, Eden famously amassed 41 tries for Castleford in 2017 - the year they finished top and reached a maiden Grand Final - while the popular Clare is an excellent finisher, too, with a fine work rate.

But New Zealand-born Faraimo, who scored 38 tries in 80 appearances for Hull, is a powerful ball carrier who Radford has long admired for his ability to start sets well and get his teams up and running.

The ex-Parramatta Eels player has settled in well and is looking forward to a fresh challenge. Faraimo, 31, enthused: “I love it here. It’s all good at Cas.

Castleford Tigers head coach Lee Radford, right, has been reunited at The Jungle with his former assistant at Hull FC, Andy Last, pictured left. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“I still live in Hull. I was there for four years and I loved every bit of it. But I’m looking forward to building something new with a new team and, hopefully, winning a few things. I do believe we can make something happen with this squad.”

Faraimo often played alongside Fonua and he is enjoying being back with his former Hull colleagues.

“It’s the same old same old with those guys!” he said, after the unexpected Black and Whites reunion, another former Hull team-mate Joe Westerman having also arrived at Castleford from Wakefield Trinity along with ex-FC assistant coach Andy Last.

“There’s nothing new there! We’ll do our best to win something with Cas. Everyone at the club is good. Pre-seasons are always tough and this one is no different. The weather hasn’t been happy but it’s good as I think you grow as a team with the team at this stage. It’ll be sweet come game-time.”

On that competition for a starting role, the USA international insisted: “I’m pretty confident [of getting it] but whatever happens, happens.

“The coaching staff will do what’s best for the team whoever they go with and Radders has just asked me to work hard and bring the buzz again.”