Castleford Tigers 2024 season preview

Castleford Tigers 2024 season preview

2023 recap

2023 was a nightmare for the Tigers, who stayed up by virtue of the fact their neighbours, Wakefield, were only slightly worse. Six wins from 27 games was a dreadful return for a side who would’ve had one eye on a top six finish at the start of the year, but Cas couldn’t even string back-to-back wins together in 2023, and a 32-8 hammering at home by Hull at the first hurdle of the Challenge Cup compounded the misery.

2023 position: 11th

Key signings

Nixon Putt (Central Queensland Capras), Elie El-Zakhem (North Sydney Bears), Sylvester Namo (Townsville Blackhawks) , Josh Hodson (Batley Bulldogs), Josh Simm (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Sam Wood (Hull KR), Luke Hooley (Leeds Rhinos), Rowan Milnes (Hull KR) Samy Kibula (Batley Bulldogs), Luis Johnson (Hull KR), Innes Senior (Huddersfield Giants, Loan)

Key departures

Adam Milner (Huddersfield Giants), Niall Evalds (Hull KR), Jordan Turner (Oldham), Nathan Massey (Featherstone Rovers), Greg Eden (Halifax Panthers), Suaia Matagi (Doncaster), Alex Sutcliffe (Doncaster), Kenny Edwards (Mackay Cutters), Gareth Widdop (Halifax Panthers)

Players to watch

Josh Simm is back in Super League after a year in Australia playing Queensland Cup. The St Helens academy product never quite nailed down a starting spot with Saints, but after a year Down Under and with the number 2 shirt handed to him in pre-season, I’m looking forward to seeing if he can fulfil his potential at Cas.

Sylvester Namo is another arrival from the Queensland Cup. The Papua New Guinea international was part of the Kumuls’ World Cup squad in 2022, and if there’s one thing that gets bums on seats – and off them – it’s PNG prop forwards. Especially a 6-foot, 17-stone prop forward.

Young gun

Jason Qareqare burst onto the scene back in 2021 but his career’s slowed down somewhat since then. Still, 14 tries in 21 Super League games is a good strike rate for any winger, and if he can get a starting spot early on this year and hold on to it, then the 20-year-old could find himself in the running for Young Player of the Year.

Our prediction – 11th

I just can’t see Cas improving significantly on 2023. The mass turnover of players could be a masterstroke or a disaster, and much will depend on how quickly the new boys bed in, particularly the players stepping up from Championship clubs, who’ll need to sink or swim pretty quickly.

Rowan Milnes is a great addition in the halves and the likes of Paul McShane and Liam Watts are still going strong, even though they’re well into their 30s now. When I look around Super League though, they definitely have one of the weakest squads on paper.

Darren Notley

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