Castleford Tigers stand-off Jake Trueman is hoping to return to the form he demonstrated in the 2018 and 2019 seasons, after a disrupted 2020 that saw him suffer from a back injury that disrupted the latter part of his season.
Trueman was the Albert Goldthorpe Rookie of the Year in 2018, when he played 28 games for the Tigers and scored eight tries.
The following year he played 31 games, again scoring eight tries, and his performances were good enough for him to gain selection for Great Britain’s tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea, although he failed to be selected by then coach Wayne Bennett for any of the four matches.
But last year he only played eleven games for the Tigers, injuring his back in a 30-22 defeat against Wigan on 30 August, only returning to action two months later while still looking uncomfortable on the field.
For a time it appeared that the injury could have long term consequences for Trueman’s career, with doctors struggling to fully identify the problem.
But fortunately the injury was eventually fully diagnosed and treated, and Trueman is confident that the problem is now a thing of the past. Now he is looking ahead, rather than in the rear-view mirror.
“It was a muscle tear but fortunately now it’s all sorted,” says Trueman.
“It went against Wigan, and I didn’t know what it was for a few weeks. That was frustrating because I didn’t know when I was going to get back onto the field.
“And in a way that was the story of our season, making a good start but then injuries preventing us from doing well on the field.
“We’ve had a close-season that has been longer than expected but now we’re all looking forward to playing again.”
The Tigers play Warrington Wolves in what will be the final game of the opening weekend at Emerald Headingley.
A recent readers’ poll in League Express revealed that of all the games on the opening weekend, that is the one that the fans are most looking forward to, which is perhaps explained by the fact that Greg Inglis could be making his debut for Warrington.
“Hopefully Greg Inglis will be playing,” says Trueman.
“I’ve watched him a lot and in my view he’s one of the greatest players to have played the game, but hopefully he’ll take a couple of games to get up to speed.”
But Inglis isn’t the only big name in the Wolves’ side, with Trueman and his halfback partner Danny Richardson set to face the Wolves pair of Blake Austin and Gareth Widdop, a halfback partnership of which much will be expected once again in 2021.
“Things are looking good in pre-season with Danny, and I’m confident we will have a spine that can compete with any other club in 2021,” says Trueman.
“Paul McShane won the Man of Steel in 2020, and in 2021 we’ll add Niall Evalds at fullback. He is a natural player who has fitted in easily to our club and we are developing some great combinations in training.
“Niall is one of the biggest signings we have made in a long time.”
Trueman admits he has one eye on the World Cup this year if he can get back to his best form.
“Playing in the World Cup is something I want to do. I had experience of the GB tour at the end of 2019, and although I didn’t play it was a great experience and I did play a few games in the World Cup Nines tournament that year.
“I’m hoping that I can stay fit and consistent this year.”
Trueman is likely to have his first run of the year on Sunday, when the Tigers play Hull KR at Hull College Craven Park in his team-mate Adam Milner’s testimonial match.
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