Former Leeds Rhinos, Hull FC and Castleford Tigers star Luke Gale appears central to rugby league’s version of the great escape.
Gale started his career at Headingley but only appeared in a Boxing Day friendly ironically against current club Wakefield Trinity in December 2007. He made his name in the lower leagues at Doncaster before joining Harlequins prior to a move to Bradford Bulls.
But it was when he joined Castleford Tigers where he really built his reputation. He was named in the Dream Team three years in a row and won the Man of Steel in 2017 as he guided Castleford to the Grand Final and 50 league points as they won the League Leaders’ Shield.
That year he would also play in a World Cup Final for England. He would spend two more years at Cas but they were undercut by injuries prior to a return to Leeds where he was the match winner and captain in the 2020 Challenge Cup Final only to leave for Hull FC at the end of 2021.
However, at the end of 2022 he left in a surprise move to Keighley Cougars only to be parachuted in by Wakefield to save their season. But injuries again got in the way. When he eventually appeared in the white, red and blue of Trinity he was a major success especially against Salford Red Devils guiding Trinity to a statement win and a huge boost in the relegation battle.
Gale appeared to be the missing piece in the club’s race for survival so when he was ruled out ahead of their clash with Wigan, it was seen as a huge blow especially with talk he could be out for the rest of the season.
Wakefield though were able to defeat Wigan without him and the club have also now revealed that Gale hadn’t suffered a broken ankle.
“I don’t want to jump to conclusions but the scan is positive,” said head coach Mark Applegarth. “There’s no structural damage and he saw a specialist on Monday who gave an estimate for how long he’ll be out.
“I’m just really pleased that there isn’t any structural damage and that we should be able to get him back at some point this year – because it didn’t look like he would play again this season after it had happened.
“He should be back in two weeks time for the Warrington game – it’s something we’re hopeful of but that is not a definite at this stage because you can obviously have setbacks with injuries like this.”
It has been a good month for Wakefield so far who have now picked up back-to-back wins to put them within two points of Castleford Tigers in their race for Super League safety.
The news on Gale has added yet more positivity around Belle Vue after the wins over Salford and Wigan and the optimism was increased further on Wednesday with the capture of experienced back-rower Josh Griffin from Hull FC.
Though Griffin is currently serving a ban, he will return later next month for what is looking like a crucial clash against Castleford at Belle Vue on August 18th – the match that could decide who survives and suffers relegation.
Trinity boss Applegarth added to his earlier comments on Gale by revealing his delighted with the signing of Griffin, who he believes will help to improve everyone at the club ahead of the run-in.
“I’m delighted we have secured Josh’s services for the rest of this year and next,” said Applegarth on Griffin who has signed until the end of the 2023 season. “Not only is he a top quality Super League player, he’s a great person who will help drive standards up in training.
“I’m looking forward to him joining up tomorrow. He’s a strong runner of the ball and hopefully he will continue his great form that he was in before his ban.”
“He’ll add a lot of value to what we’re trying to build here because I think he was the form back-rower in Super League before he was suspended, for us to have him is a great boost and it gives us further momentum on what we are trying to achieve between now and the end of the season.”
Speaking on if Griffin will be the last player Wakefield sign this season, Applegarth added: “Never say never. We’re quite content, unless we get some mad injuries which have been happening throughout this year, but we’re more than content that if we get some bodies back and we’re getting a fully fit and healthy squad we’ve got a lot of fire power to choose from there.
“But the main thing is keeping everybody fit and healthy, that’s the biggest thing. You’ve got to keep your best players on the field, especially with these nine games coming up.”