Castleford Tigers’ Nathan Massey retains Super League ambition ahead of testimonial game

NATHAN MASSEY remains as keen as ever to cap his great Castleford Tigers career with a trophy.

The forward has spent his whole career at the Jungle, making 281 appearances since debuting in a 2007 Challenge Cup tie with local amateurs Lock Lane, the same day as teammate Liam Watts.

Massey’s 17th season in the Castleford first team will also be his testimonial year, and this Sunday’s clash with Super League rivals Huddersfield Giants will be his testimonial game.

It’s been a long time coming for the 33-year-old, who could have first applied for his testimonial in 2017 when the Tigers went on to enjoy one of the best campaigns in their history and win the League Leaders’ Shield.

“In hindsight it would have been a decent year for it, but I’m really proud to have played for Castleford for the amount of time I have,” said Massey.

“Everything just seemed to click (in 2017). We had a really good group of boys who bought into everything that we needed to do. 

“We came into that season, no one would have thought we were going to do what we did. But we had a lot of talented players – Luke Gale was absolutely insane that year, Paul McShane was too, Junior Moors, Bennie Roberts. 

“We had a really tight-knit group of players who enjoyed spending time with each other on and off the field. I think that played a big part. 

“Everything is good when you’re winning, you’re always smiling, everyone loves coming into work. We didn’t have too many dark days that season. It was a one-off thing.”

However, it didn’t end in Super League Grand Final glory, as Leeds Rhinos won the day at Old Trafford.

It’s a theme of Massey’s career, as he has also played in two Challenge Cup finals at Wembley without success, beaten in 2014 by Leeds and in 2021 by St Helens.

He admits: “To win one of those trophies would be nice. It’s pretty special to get (to finals) and play in them but I can imagine it’s even more special at the end of the game picking that trophy up. 

“Obviously that is my main goal, to do it with Cas, it would be the icing on the cake.

“You wouldn’t say Cas are one of the big names in Super League but hopefully we can get back to those lofty heights and come away with a win in one of the major finals.”

Lee Radford’s side have made nine signings ahead of the 2023 season and Massey believes they are now in a stronger position.

“I think the signings we’ve made this year are really going to bolster us in key areas,” he said.

“We’ve signed two really experienced halfbacks (Jacob Miller and Gareth Widdop), positions we’ve had younger halfbacks (previously) and they’ve needed a bit more guidance. 

“We’ve brought in some fresh new players like Muizz Mustapha and Jack Broadbent. lex Mellor came in halfway through last year and was outstanding for us. 

“So we’ve got a really good balance this year. With the signings we’ve made and the personnel we already had last year, I think we’ve got a really competitive team this year.”

Massey’s testimonial game will provide the best indication yet of where Castleford measure up.

“It’s a real test against Huddersfield, they’ve recruited really well. I’d like to thank them for coming over to us to play in my testimonial game,” he added.

Massey said that he is keen to see out his career with his hometown team: “I’m so proud to represent the town and the club. 

“The club has got plenty of history with some really special players. To be up on the walls around the place with some of those players is unbelievable for me. 

“People on the outside look at the facilities and stuff like that, but if you come in and see the people that work around the place and the fans, they’re the nicest people ever and they’re absolutely rugby mad.

“It’s a pretty special place and I’ve loved every minute.”