2022 was rather a whirlwind year for Jacques O’Neill.
After coming to an agreement with Castleford Tigers to be let go from his contract to ‘pursue other opportunities’, O’Neill made a surprise appearance on ITV2 hit show Love Island.
Following a number of weeks on the reality show, the 23-year-old left the villa citing mental health issues and his ADHD as his reasons for leaving.
Since then, O’Neill has enjoyed a tremendous presence on social media, accumulating over 1.3 million followers on Instagram, penning deals with the likes of Public Relations company The Social PR.
But, the former Castleford man took to social media to reveal he had broken his foot yesterday – something which would have delayed a potential sporting return.
In terms of O’Neill making a return to rugby league, it has often been suggested. But, if he was to make a comeback, where would he potentially hang his hat?
It perhaps seems the most likely deal to happen given O’Neill’s affinity with Castleford after spending numerous years at the Jungle. The forward left on good terms with the club and was invited back to chat with the players following his exit from Love Island. O’Neill has made a number of posts on Instagram and Twitter when watching the Tigers play – either live or when watching on TV. Castleford fans would welcome back the Cumbrian with open arms after he became one of the club’s most exciting youngsters before suffering injury. The Tigers also have first option to sign O’Neill if he does indeed return to the sport.
Hailing from Cumbria, O’Neill was actually invited to play for the region in an international friendly against Jamaica in October as part of a rugby league return before the Rugby League World Cup. The 23-year-old didn’t play in that game, but being from Cumbria there would inevitably be an attraction of returning ‘home’. After a year out of the game as well, starting in the second tier would perhaps be the correct level in order to get back to full fitness before potentially making it back to Super League. Of course, it would also help generate massive interest in the Championship.
O’Neill signed a professional contract back in 2015 at the age of 16 – who was in charge then of Castleford? Daryl Powell. Now the same Powell is at Warrington where he has endured a difficult start to life as the Cheshire club’s boss. Powell was there throughout O’Neill’s journey to the Castleford first team, handing the loose-forward his debut in 2019 and giving him new contracts in 2019, 2020 and 2021. With Warrington’s current squad and pack dominated by big names over the age of 30, O’Neill would help balance that out with his youthful enthusiasm and desire to better himself.