There’s going to be a new look to the Castleford Tigers playmaking positions with Gareth Widdop and Jacob Miller arriving, Jake Trueman heading to Hull FC and Danny Richardson out with with a long-term knee injury.
Jake also suffered a knee injury earlier this year, and having to chop and change halfbacks certainly didn’t help Lee Radford, who in my view had a reasonable first season in charge.
It took the Tigers a while to get going, perhaps understandably given the change after Daryl Powell’s lengthy reign, but there were some glimpses of the potential at Wheldon Road.
Radders will be looking for consistency both in performances and his team selection, with his fingers obviously crossed over Widdop and Miller remaining fit.
They are decent-looking signings, because both have bags of experience but still have a bit left in the tank, and will want to be in a side which finishes higher up the table than either Warrington or Wakefield did this year.
Miller was a key man in leading Trinity out of trouble, both through his leadership as captain and his creativity and kicking ability, and he’ll be missed.
It will be interesting to see how the pair of them click. As has been pointed out, Widdop is a good organiser while Miller’s style is a bit more off the cuff, and on paper it looks promising.
Wakefield have replaced Miller with Morgan Smith from Featherstone, Mark Applegarth’s first signing since becoming coach, and he will be desperate to show he can make the step up after a good season in the Championship.
He’s played at the top level for both Warrington and London Broncos, and at 24 is ready to continue his development, although I fear it may be a tough first season at the club.
Trinity still have Mason Lino, who will be central to their hopes, and after seeing so many departures, their supporters will be relieved to see some movement the other way.
Featherstone, meanwhile, have handed Sean Long their coaching gig in succession to Brian McDermott.
While I’ve been critical of his work at Leeds, because I haven’t observed much evidence of major improvement in the halves, I’ll be interested to see how he approaches this opportunity.
Sean has a lot of experience as an assistant coach to call on, and he’ll get great backing from both his chairman Mark Campbell, and, if he promotes an entertaining style of play, the Rovers supporters.
Just as with his old teammate Paul Wellens at St Helens, there is plenty of pressure on Sean at Featherstone, and I wish him all the best.
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