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“A real mess” – Castleford Tigers forced into ‘pulling strings’ in transfer market, says Great Britain legend

The deadline for transfers for the 2023 season is August 8th and that’s seen some sides make plenty of moves this week, Wigan Warriors recruited Tyler Dupree, St Helens signed hooker Moses Mbye whereas some teams have been settled in their squad and taken a seemingly calm approach such as Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR.

One side that has been looking for transfer targets for much of the season and has pulled off three within the past week is Castleford Tigers.

The Tigers entered the season with the oldest squad in Super League and barring young Jack Broadbent their average starting age was surpassing 30 years of age.

Now they’ve found themselves sucked into a relegation battle with Wakefield Trinity it’s seen Andy Last’s men pulling the trigger on some transfer moves.

Those include Jordan Johnstone from Widnes and then most recently overseas talents in Billy Tsikrikas, Liam Horne and Charbel Tasipale.

Former Great Britain player and later commentator Mike ‘Stevo’ Stephenson has branded the situation “a real mess” when speaking with former colleague and current friend Eddie Hemmings on the pair’s ‘Eddie and Stevo’ podcast.

Referencing squad depth in the long and arduous Super League campaign, Stevo said: “When it comes to the end of the season, the clubs that have got the depth will survive but again, Wakefield, they’re fighting for their lives and obviously, Castleford Tigers are doing exactly the same thing.

“There’s news today that they’ve signed the North Devils Papua New Guinea international, Liam Horne. Now he plays in the second tier competition up in Queensland in the Brisbane League. He’s a handy player.

“Tigers are pulling strings to try to get out of a real mess because it’s a big fight between those two. It’s been like this for a long, long time because that awful word, relegation, it really does bring a lot of pressure to not only the players but also the fans and everything.”

That’s been evident with Wakefield as well who have been very active in the market signing Luke Gale, re-signing club legend David Fifita whilst they even dipped into the French market bringing in the likes of Hugo Salabio and Romain Franco from the Elite One competition, and Ugo Tison from Catalans Dragons.

Stevo continued: “You try to pull out all the stops, you try to pull the rabbit out of the hat and they’ve been doing that for a long time.

“But this is the most important relegation battle of all because this perhaps means the end of the club.

“According to what the IMG plan is, is that whoever gets relegated, perhaps, will not be able to be promoted by what they do on the field of play. It’s only what is off the field of play that is more important than the points you gain whilst playing on the field. Sounds crackers, but that’s how it is!”

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