IT’S fair to say that the 2023 Super League season has been one of disappointment from a Castleford Tigers’ fan point of view.
Going into the year full of hope and optimism, losing head coach Lee Radford after just three games didn’t exactly help proceedings as interim boss Andy Last did his best to turn things around.
Appointed as permanent head coach, Last managed to win just four games before a home drubbing by Huddersfield Giants prompted the Tigers board to sack the ex-Hull FC assistant.
In came Danny Ward who was tasked with survival – something which he was able to bring about following two wins in six games.
But, whether the Tigers are going to appoint Ward on a permanent deal remains to be seen.
There is change afoot at The Jungle and already a number of players have exited the club during the 2023 season itself: Mahe Fonua, Bureta Faraimo, Jake Mamo, Daniel Smith, Adam Milner, Jacques O’Neill and Callum McLelland have all departed whilst Albert Vete and Alex Sutcliffe have played most of the year at lower tier clubs.
Overseas forward Kenny Edwards outlined his intention to leave the club a number of months ago whilst Greg Eden is being linked with Featherstone Rovers – as is Nathan Massey whilst Liam Watts’ name continues to be linked with second-tier sides and Niall Evalds will join Hull KR for 2024.
Joe Westerman is out of contract but has been Castleford’s best player of 2023 by far which could prompt but another deal, but Suaia Matagi looks likely to exit The Jungle too with Jordan Turner heading for Oldham.
Muizz Mustapha has an option for next season, but having played a bit-part role during the year, it remains to be seen whether that will be activated – though the ex-Leeds Rhinos man has shown up very well when given a shot. Alex Sutcliffe also has options for 2024 and 2025, but those look unlikely to be activated.
Billy Tsikrikas will head back to Canterbury Bulldogs in the NRL whilst Alex Foster’s and Jordan Johnstone’s emergency short-term deals don’t appear as if they will be extended.
Blake Austin appears to have been offered a new contract by Castleford, but it remains to be seen if that will happen.
Add into the mix George Lawler who is out of contract as well as youngsters Bailey Dawson, Ilikaya Mafi and Jacob Hookem and the Tigers could well be looking into double figures for those leaving.
It is set to be one of Castleford’s biggest rebuilding stages in their Super League history but, with a coach still undecided for 2024, time is of the essence.
Left during 2023/at end of season – 10
Likely to leave at end of season – 13
Could sign a new deal – 2
Still contracted – 17
Linked with signing – 5
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