In this week’s League Express, editor Martyn Sadler has paid tribute to Castleford following their fantastic performance against Leeds Rhinos. A week earlier, Martyn wrote about Daryl Powell’s exploits in the transfer market. You can read Martyn’s thoughts every week in his column ‘Talking Rugby League’.
How important is recruitment in Rugby League?
It is one of the key ingredients of success, and Castleford Tigers proved the point perfectly in their Challenge Cup victory over Salford.
Denny Solomona and Mike McMeeken scored two tries each, with Paul McShane and Jake Webster scoring one each and McShane adding five goals.
The Tigers announced in July 2014 that Solomona would be joining them from London Broncos for the 2015 season. They announced the capture of McMeeken in September 2014 and they did a swap deal with Wakefield in July 2015 that saw McShane coming to the Jungle and Scott Moore going to Belle Vue.
Each of those three signings have proved to be a masterstroke by Tigers coach Daryl Powell, with those three players contributing five of their six tries, with each of them having an outstanding game.
The revelation was McShane, who is now 26 years old, but whose career has never quite taken off in the way I originally expected it would after he made his debut for Leeds as a teenager in 2009.
McShane was at Headingley for five years, where he was regarded exclusively as a hooker, but in that time only played 55 Super League games, with 38 of them off the bench. He had loan spells at Hull FC in 2010 and at Widnes in 2012.
His fate was sealed at Headingley when the Rhinos signed Paul Aiton from Wakefield for the 2014 season and McShane moved to Wakefield to replace the PNG player at Belle Vue.
I don’t know why McShane’s face didn’t seem to fit at Headingley and we might have expected his career to fizzle out after leaving there.
On Saturday, when I saw that Luke Gale would be missing from the Tigers’ squad, I feared the worst from them. But McShane proved to be a more than capable deputy, and he controlled the game from the beginning to the end. I thought it was a dominating performance that Gale himself, the current holder of the Albert Goldthorpe Medal, would have been proud of.
But what about Solomona and McMeeken?
Solomona was outstanding, as he is most weeks, and he even managed to excel himself by scoring a try that definitely wasn’t a try at the start of the second half.
Referee James Child awarded the try and asked the video-referee Richard Silverwood to check the grounding. It was obvious to everyone except Silverwood that the try hadn’t been scored, and yet it was awarded.
McMeeken is another player who seems to improve every week and before too long he will surely be knocking on the door for international selection.
And there is yet another recent signing who is making a mark for the Tigers.
Gadwin Springer joined them last year from the Catalans Dragons, and I can’t imagine how and why the Dragons allowed him to leave Perpignan. In my view Daryl Powell should be investigated for theft for luring Springer away from the south of France. I’m confident that over time the young Frenchman, who was born in French Guyana on the South American continent, will become one of the dominant prop forwards in the game.