Leeds Rhinos and Castleford Tigers are meeting in the only game tonight with nothing to play as the season draws to a close.
However, the clubs have local pride at stake and they are both hoping to send a message to their fans that 2024 will be different after the two let themselves down in 2023.
The game is remarkably set for a major attendance it seems especially thanks to Castleford Tigers fans who have sold out their allocation and then some.
This is remarkable given the season they have had and the fact they have nothing to play for.
However, they may be able to see a future Castleford player in the shape of fullback Luke Hooley.
He is expected to join Castleford Tigers and Danny Ward has addressed this:
“I don’t really, I don’t know too much about that, or just reading what’s on the papers and things like that. It was not part of my task wasn’t coming and recruit players for next year. My task was to come in the 18 for six games and try and stay in Super League. So that’s all I’ve been kind of focusing on. There’s been conversations around, you know, lots of players giving small opinions but I’m not really involved in the recruitment and retention for next year at the minute.
“Oh yeah, we’ve been being at Batley, you know, I’ve come across him plenty of times with London. He’s a good young player, a strong young player, who wasn’t surprised when Leeds signed him on with the potential he’s got. So, yeah, I’ve come across Luke plenty of times in the game, as I’ve seen, of initiative.”
Rohan Smith has also had his say: “Luke will no doubt draw some interest I would imagine given that we’ve signed an established NRL fullback and Luke was brought in to be a backup fullback and he’s done a commendable job I think in recent times in tough circumstances.
“So he’s come in and he’s done his job. If something happens there external that will be a conversation but we’re looking forward to Luke finishing the season strongly with us.”
He admitted that he would be happy to have a conversation about a move for Hooley:
“I’d be happy to have conversations behind closed doors with players that want to explore their opportunities, particularly when it’s in a situation where we’ve recruited over the top of him essentially and we’ve still got Richie Myler with us.
“So if something happens there, we’ll have those conversations.
“We have conversations around not only the present but the future and the way it works in sport now when players are coming into their final year of their contract, sometimes they’re looking for that early security.
“Even around this time of year, they’re looking for their security of 2025 and beyond and sometimes you can’t give that to them. Sometimes it can work out in the best interest of the player and the club to move on but those conversations haven’t been had any time recently.”
He also spoke about assembling his squad for next year?
“Yeah that’s a disruption but it’s where most of the attention goes from the media is where players are signing and what’s going to happen to your roster next week and next month and next year. It’s an ongoing thing.
“That’s where recruitment and retention has basically become a 12 month of the year activity in the NRL and Super League because of that. Partly because of the speculation and partly because of players and clubs’ interest in securing their personal or the collective future. So there’s no right time sometimes, each situation is different.”