Lee Radford reveals plan to play Ryan Hampshire and provides Castleford Tigers injury updates

Castleford Tigers head coach Lee Radford hopes to play on-trial fullback Ryan Hampshire for their Reserves this weekend before being in contention for the first team, potentially as soon as their Challenge Cup game the following week.

With regular fullback Niall Evalds sidelined by a hamstring injury, the team has been shuffled around with Gareth O’Brien moved to the back and Paul McShane playing at halfback alongside Jake Trueman instead of at hooker.

In response, Radford has moved to bring out-of-contract former Wakefield Trinity player Hampshire into the club for a trial period, and the Tigers boss revealed he could play as soon as this week for the Reserves, who travel to Huddersfield on Sunday.

“You only have to look at our squad to see where we’re at,” said Radford on bringing Hampshire into the club.

“With our spine, we want to get Macca back to nine as soon as we can. He’s doing a sterling job for us at the minute playing out of position but the pegs aren’t going in the right places.

“I’m glad (Hampshire was available). You’re not going to get many blokes with that Super League experience and in good shape as well. Although he’s not battle-hardened yet, he’s physically in good shape.

“I think if we can try and get him some minutes this week in the Reserves, then hopefully he shows us he’s up to speed and ready to go. If that’s the case then he’ll definitely be in contention.”

After taking on Wigan Warriors on Thursday night, Cas will be in action the following Saturday at Leeds Rhinos in the sixth round of the Challenge Cup.

On Evalds, Radford only said that his return from injury would be “sooner rather than later, but it’s not soon enough”, while he also gave an update on some of the players currently sidelined.

Jordan Turner fractured his hand in the Tigers’ defeat at Huddersfield last weekend, and Radford revealed that the centre would likely be out for four weeks.

Nathan Massey is “a couple of weeks away hopefully” with a hamstring injury while Adam Milner continues to struggle with his back but is improving following an injection at the beginning of the week.

Looking ahead to the trip to Wigan, Radford implored his side to be mentally switched on to make a quick start to the game.

“It took us 40 minutes to kick in and turn up with the right levels of intent and energy that we needed to (against Huddersfield),” he said.

“We can’t afford that. (Wigan) get out the blocks quicker than anybody in the comp. They’ve scored more tries than anyone in the first ten minutes so we’ve got to get out of the blocks really quick. We can’t be sluggish like we were last time.”