Wells discusses squad for 2019
Posted: Monday 19th November 2018 - 7:00 PM
With just one week until the start of pre-season training, Director of Rugby Jon Wells has shared his thoughts on the club’s squad for 2019.
Daryl Powell’s men will kick-start their new Betfred Super League campaign at home to Catalans Dragons on Friday, 1stFebruary and return to training next Monday to begin their preparations at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
As it stands, the Tigers have yet to recruit in the off season, having already brought in Peter Mata’utia and Liam Watts midway through 2018, but Wells says he is excited about having the chance to see several players take the next step in their development next year as the team aims to build on their play-off semi-final defeat to eventual champions Wigan Warriors.
“The signings of Liam and Peter were considered and thought out, and the club paid significant transfer fees to do our business,” Wells told castlefordtigers.com
“They have added a great deal to this squad and with the benefit of a full pre-season in our environment at Castleford we’re confident that we will continue to step up in 2019, especially when you add in the ongoing development of players like Jake Trueman, the reigning Super League Young Player of the Year.
“We are working within the constraints of a salary-capped sport and you’ve seen a number of key players such as Jake sign new and upgraded contracts, and that consistency in the squad can be a real strength.
“There certainly won’t be wholesale changes and the emphasis right now is on finding possibly one more addition if we can. We’re constantly looking to do that but we very much like this squad and believe it does have the potential to challenge for trophies, irrespective of whether new recruits arrive or not.
“What we do have here is a deep squad and that means that we can have a Jamie Ellis come in and win a game for us, for example. Players like Mitch Clark and Calum Turner also came in last year and those players are a lot better than what several other teams have in their equivalent numbers in the squad.
“It’s not always about new personnel, it’s about unlocking the next stage of development in the personnel we’ve already got. If you look at centre specifically, we’re looking at Greg Minikin, Fozzy or Ben Roberts as being genuine quality options on that right edge for us if required.
“With the likes of Luke Gale, Alex Foster, Greg Minikin, Greg Eden and Matt Cook fit and healthy again after missing large parts of last season through injury, we have every right to be excited about the players we already have. So yes, we are looking to further strengthen the squad if the right player becomes available, but Daryl and I are also very happy with what’s already in place.”
Ahead of the squad’s return to pre-season training, Wells also shed further light on the club’s plans for further improvement over the next 12 months in a number of areas, including the continued investment in people and staff and a commitment to a new volunteer programme with the Prince of Wales Hospice, the club’s main charity partner.
He added: “There’s going to be a real change in direction, tempo and focus for pre-season this year and we’ve just had a really productive day with the coaching department finalising plans for how we want to go about things.
“We’re committed to having good people at this club and we’ve actually passed on a couple of potential recruits because of concerns over how they’d fit into our culture.
“We’re even starting a new academy volunteer programme with the Prince of Wales Hospice because we don’t just want our young players to be able to catch, pass, tackle and run, we want them to be well rounded, humble individuals as well. The programme has been designed to ensure they break into the first team at the age of 18, 19 and 20 with their eyes open and with a really balanced view on life as a professional athlete.
“We’ve also taken a look at the old Castleford town crest and its Latin motto which roughly translates to ‘bold and honest’. Working hard together to enable the squad to be ‘bold and honest’ both off and on the field is a really worthwhile endeavour.
“The groundwork for trophy challenges in 2019 starts now, and it’s worth noting that we’ve made a change to our strength and conditioning personnel in the off season with Ben Cooper having now left the club. Ben has been a great servant to Castleford Tigers, he’s done some fantastic work for the club and provided huge value in the role, but we feel it’s the right time for all parties for a change.
“Jamie Bell, our previous assistant strength and conditioning coach will now step up to lead the department and that’s a just reward for what he’s brought to the club as well. Just today, we’ve also brought in a new member to the team in Calum Christopherson, who will bring further energy and enthusiasm to the department to help further ignite that bold and honest philosophy.”