By AARON BOWER and MATTHEW SHAW
Castleford Tigers prospect Bailey Hodgson (pictured) is on the verge of a move to NRL side Newcastle Knights, League Express can reveal.
The talented teenage fullback made his Super League debut for the Tigers last month in a game against Hull Kingston Rovers.
League Express now understands that Hodgson, whose uncle is Canberra and England hooker Josh Hodgson, is likely to sign for the Knights next season.
A deal is believed to be all-but concluded, with Hodgson keen to test himself in Australia and relocate Down Under. The Tigers were keen to keep Hodgson, but have granted him permission to explore a move overseas.
On Sunday the Tigers confirmed the news that League Express reported last week, that fullback Gareth O’Brien has signed a deal with the club. In his case, it will cover the next three seasons and O’Brien is delighted to have settled his future after the problems that afflicted his previous club, Toronto Wolfpack.
“I’m very grateful for the opportunity to continue my stay at the Tigers and I’m really looking forward to the next three years,” he said.
“Since joining it’s been great, I settled in really quickly, the boys have been great and the coaches have been fantastic. It’s been a difficult year for everyone, and I think we’re a bit glad to see the back of it and we’re all looking forward to 2021.
“I can slot into both halfback and fullback and that gives us some good options for next year. I’ll be putting everyone on their toes, it’s healthy and helps the competition that a squad needs. I’m looking forward to it.”
Daryl Powell said last month that he was looking to recruit someone who could play prop and second-row, as well as another creative player.
Gareth O’Brien will occupy the second of those roles, but his search for a versatile forward may now see him assess new targets.
Mike McMeeken and Matt Cook have both departed for Catalans and Widnes respectively, with no new pack players currently signed up.
The club also triggered an extension in the contract of forward Tyla Hepi last week, ensuring he will remain with Castleford in 2021.
Hepi said: “It’s been a roller coaster of a season on and off-field obviously with the influence of Covid but I am currently enjoying the last few months of footy and I’ll keep my feet on the ground and keep working hard and getting better every day for the team.”
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