Castleford director of rugby Jon Wells has admitted the Tigers are considering applying to the RFL for dispensation on the salary cap following Luke Gale’s serious Achilles injury – but believes they have adequate options to replace him already at the club.
Gale is almost certain to miss the entire 2019 campaign after suffering a ruptured Achilles in training on Saturday, and the England international will undergo surgery on Thursday.
That has led to inevitable speculation over whether Castleford will sign a late replacement for Gale. They are full on the salary cap for 2019 – and while Wells admits they have pondered the possibility of seeking dispensation to remove Gale’s salary from the cap this year, their priority is running the rule on the players they already have.
He told TotalRL: “We have the potential to apply to the RFL for salary cap dispensation should we decide to go into the market for another half. But as it stands right now, we’re looking at the options we’ve got already at Castleford first and foremost.
“There’s a precedent for it in the NRL with Josh Hodgson – I think they named the rule after him – and more recently with Jordan Rapana. I can’t be sure if it’s happened over here before but everything is dealt with on a case-by-case basis. The headline is that we’re missing our most high-profile player, but this is a club that has never really revolved around one player and all the squad would tell you that.”
The Tigers have the likes of established halves Ben Roberts and Jamie Ellis who could partner Jake Trueman in the halves – as well as youngsters Cory Aston and Jake Sweeting.
And Wells insists nothing has been finalised regarding whether Castleford head into the market or not.
“We have plenty of options,” Wells said.
“With us not running a marquee option, we’re running a broader and deeper squad and that will serve us well. We’ve got a vast amount of experience in Benny and Jamie, and Cory showed up very well against Featherstone.
“An injury like that to an established star, I always liken it to how Sam Tomkins burst onto the scene; you always need an injury to an experienced player for someone else to get their chance. We’ve got options to explore internally and Daryl is working through them as we speak.
“The club is devastated for Luke, and I think the game should be. In a year where we needed all our stars on show, we’ve got a real star who has to sit on the sidelines. He’s still got a massive contribution to make to the club, as he’s got some advice he can impart on the likes of Cory, Jake Trueman and Jake Sweeting.”