Why Castleford Tigers’ Niall Evalds is surpassing Lee Radford’s expectations

Lee Radford is getting even more than he expected from Castleford fullback Niall Evalds.

The 28-year-old agreed a contract extension until 2023 – with the option of a further year in the club’s favour – back in May, when Daryl Powell was at the helm.

But as coach in waiting, Radford gave the deal the thumbs up, and now he is in post, the former Hull chief is even happier with the England Knights international than he thought he’d be.

As Castleford continue the countdown to their Super League opener at home to Evalds’ old club Salford on Friday week, February 11, Radford said: “I’ve been really impressed with Niall.

“Having coached against him for a number of years, he’s surprised me as to how good he is.

“I had him amongst the elite fullbacks in the competition, but he has probably surpassed that for me.

“I think it’s from working with him that I’ve noticed the detail in his game and how hard he works.

“But I’ve also seen what he is like around the other players, particularly the young blokes who play in his position.

“He is fantastic off the field and I’ve been really pleased with him since coming in.”

Radford has also praised Kiwi second rower Kenny Edwards.

The 32-year-old is on a season-long loan from Huddersfield, from whom Castleford have also signed New Zealand, Samoa and Combined Nations All Stars international Suaia Matagi, who played 13 times on loan for them last year.

“What has really impressed me with Kenny is that when the young blokes have made a mistake, rather than jumping into them, as soon as the session is finished, he’s rounding those blokes up and going through stuff with them and working on it,” he said.

“That is quality leadership and is invaluable for our young players.”

Winger James Clare has been suspended for three matches for punching doing a pre-season game.

Castleford have made their education and development manager and current England Community Lions coach Rob Nikolay head of youth development.

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