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Castleford Tigers boss points to rivals as template for success

Castleford Tigers finally got their first win of the season on Friday night as they beat Salford Red Devils 36-24 but that win might not paper over the cracks showing at the club currently.

Whilst a win will always boost the mood of the fans, it’s been more than just performances that have been causing unrest among the Tigers’ faithful of late, with serious questions asked about the club’s recruitment and development in this IMG era of rugby league.

Castleford Tigers have used their overseas quota to the max with seven players on the books but at times fans have accused the club of taking cheap options, with a serious lack of NRL experience in the squad.

Instead, the majority of their overseas signings have played in the NSW or Queensland Cup with just 66 games of NRL experience among the seven, Albert Vete (54) and Super League veteran Jacob Miller (9) making up the bulk of those games.

Craig Lingard has continuously used his press conferences to outline the club’s current approach in the IMG climate, explaining that the club has to build for the future. He explained previously: “The introduction of IMG we’re sort of forced into the mode that we’re in now and the plan that we’ve got now, we’ve got to make sure that off the field the club are doing what they need to do.”

Prior to Friday’s win, Lingard had used rivals Wakefield Trinity as an example of what Castleford Tigers could look like in 12 months time.

He told BBC Radio Leeds: “There’s a lot of doom and gloom about because the league table is as it is. I guess we’re in a similar situation to where Wakefield were this time last year and Wakefield were in the same scenario where we are.

“Twelve months down the line, they’ve got a new owner and investors pumping lots of money and they’ve got a brand new stand making improvements to the stadium and they’re recruiting top-name players in Championship.”

Castleford Tigers having to “ride that frustration”

Castleford Tigers' Jacob Miller dejected as his side lets another try in against Huddersfield.

Credit: Imago Images

Lingard continued to use Castleford’s old foe Wakefield as the beacon of hope by explaining that it’s a case of “patience and hard work” and not simply a “click of the fingers” fix.

Continuing, the Castleford Tigers boss said: “We’re twelve months further behind where Wakefield were and hopefully next year we’ll have the start of a new stand, we’ll have owner investment, we’ll have improvements to the ground, we’ll have players coming in that want to play for Castleford, big-name players, but hopefully we’ll be a Super League club.

“We’re at the start of that journey and you can’t just click your fingers and get to the end of that journey. There’s got to be a lot of patience, a lot of hard work and a lot of determination that needs to be put into it off the field. It’s a long-term plan and, as I said earlier, it’s something that maybe the club has not had for a number of years.

“We’re going to have to ride that frustration, we’re going to have to keep working hard and keep putting the effort in and keep representing the club how the club needs to be represented and hopefully the fans and everybody else involved with the club and everybody else in the rugby league will be able to see the small improvements step by step week on week.”

He had also provided hope with the suggestion that there could be “marquee names” arriving this year, but certainly next year, and he’s even suggested the club will be forced to test the loan market this coming week with 15 of his 31 players currently carrying some type of injury designation.

After the win over Salford, he said: “We’re low on bodies, we had 12 people on the treatment bench before today’s game and now we’re up to 15 out of a squad of 31, so we’re a really low number. We need a few reinforcements in this week if we can.”

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