It was the news all Castleford Tigers fans were fearing.
Luke Gale’s season could be over. The Tigers have not completely ruled him out of returning for either their play-off semi-final or a potential Grand Final appearance just yet, but following appendix surgery on Tuesday, Gale’s season now looks to be in real doubt.
So what are the Tigers’ options for the run-in from here? Thankfully, they have several to pick from – and TotalRL has taken a look through them all to try and work out which way Castleford will go, starting this Sunday against Wigan.
Paul McShane to scrum-half, Adam Milner to hooker
Perhaps the most tempting choice for Castleford is to switch two of their in-form players this year around into new positions – but will that be too much of a reshuffle? There’s little doubting Paul McShane could play scrum-half and Adam Milner could drop in to hooker no problem, but will Daryl Powell want to cause such a shuffle when there are perhaps easier options when it comes to avoid stunting the momentum of his side? As good a half-back as McShane is when needed, he is an even better hooker. Castleford need him there.
Tom Holmes in to scrum-half
If Powell wants to avoid serious upheaval and disruption, then the fact he has a ready-made replacement for Gale waiting in the wings may hand Tom Holmes an opportunity he sensed he would not get. Holmes is, of course, leaving for Featherstone at the end of this season – and the lifelong Cas fan now has an opportunity to finish his time with the Tigers by helping them win the Super League title. What a way to go out that would be.
Grant Millington to play in the halves
It’s the wildcard option – but it’s one a few Castleford fans may be tempted for Powell to go with. The hugely popular Grant Millington is, in essence, the Tigers’ Mr Consistent – and there’s no doubting he would do a great job in the halves. However, as popular – and talented – as Millington is, it may be strange to move him out of the pack, where he can be so vital for Castleford, when there are actual pivots waiting in the wings. Millington would perhaps be best suited to remain as part of the Tigers’ dynamic, explosive pack.
The best option?
It has to be Holmes to scrum-half.
There’s no doubting his talent, and he has rarely let anyone down when he’s pulled on a Castleford shirt. It’s a fascinating subplot too, for the young half-back to finish his time at Castleford with a title run-in. Crucially, it keeps Powell’s side as unsettled as possible, too.