Millington wants more
Posted: Tuesday 26th May 2020 - 6:00 PM
The veteran forwards gives his thoughts on the 2020 season so far, the rest of his forward pack and the young stars fighting to get in the team.
Grant Millington has established himself since joining in 2012 as one of the most consistent forwards in Super League. Not content with what he has achieved so far, he would like to cap it all off with silverware success and makes no bones about wanting to go around again next season too.
The accolade of ‘Castleford’s greatest overseas signing’ is one that would make for a great debate as there have been plenty of talented players who have worn the Cas colours and represented the club well. There should no doubt that Grant Millington is one of the names that should be discussed for that accolade, since joining from Canterbury Bulldogs he has gone onto feature in over 200 matches for the Tigers, but when questioned what he thinks about being held in such high regard Grant becomes a little sheepish.
“Compliments don’t really sit too well with me and that’s probably one of the biggest compliments that you can get as an overseas player,” he said.
“Whilst it’s nice to hear, there has been plenty of great players who came before me but no, like I said compliments don’t sit well with me.”
It’s been a brilliant start to the 2020 season for the Fords with them sat joint top of the table with Wigan Warriors separated only by points difference. Plenty of the squad have begun the year strongly with many plaudits for the new boys such as Derrell Olpherts and Danny Richardson, but Grant’s form has been excellent too after working exceptionally hard in the pre-season.
“It’s been fantastic and we’ve won the majority of our games so far but still at times we were not quite happy with the way played and there’s still a lot more rugby in us and a lot better performances defensively.
“That all sort of came to a head in the Saints game and as we all know we had started to hit a decent bit of form but due to the circumstances that we’re all in at the moment it’s been put on hold. Not ideal for us as a team but we’ll just have to work hard at home and work hard while in isolation or in lockdown and when we come back together we’ve got to try and do our best to pick up where we left off.”
ROAR spoke to Millo ahead of the Government’s lockdown back in March, at the time of publishing this May edition there is no knowledge of when the season suspension will end. The players, like everyone in the world, are having to adjust to working from home and in the days building up to the lockdown the squad began preparing for training at home.
“The club has been fantastic with everything and before we got locked down properly, I think everyone sort of knew it was coming so, we had a few sessions at the club in really small groups of players and did our best to keep our distance with no contact. Literally just on the field doing some running and the gym was cleaned down before every set of players went in to do a little bit of weights and then clean it off again before heading off to go home again.
“We got given some weights or exercise equipment to take home which is great but there’s only limited stuff you can do at home, because everyone has got different equipment the coaches had to put together a different programme for every player, really specific for every individual. I think we’ll have to be pretty creative with how we’ll get some work done.”
It comes at a tough time for the Tigers who obviously wanted to keep the winning momentum going after an impressive victory over St Helens, but it’s particularly tough for Millington who wanted to prove to himself this year that he can perform better than he did in 2019.
“For me specifically I think I’ve started this season well compared to last year, I think it was pretty obvious that I wasn’t happy with my form last year. I’m so much stronger this year than I was compared to last year so, I’ll be doing as much strength training with the equipment I’ve got as possible. Plenty of cardio too, I was one of the lucky few to borrow a WattBike from the club, very lucky, that’ll be good for keeping my cardio up but its also good to measure your power output and keep producing power through your legs.
“So I’ll be doing a mixture of WattBike and running sessions in the time we get out of the house, I’ll be off down the local field to get a bit of running done before I have to get home again. As a rugby league player, you need to be good at everything and can’t be just a power athlete or an endurance athlete, you need a good mixture.
“I think the reason for myself would be a selfish motivation, I know I didn’t play up to the standard that I’m capable of last year. I know I am getting older now, but I still wasn’t playing near the level that I knew was still within me and was capable of. For me personally it was to prove to myself and everyone that I can still perform at a decent standard. That’s something I’m going to have to work really hard on to maintain in this off-period but also you don’t get too many chances to do something special and win some trophies, like I said I’m getting older and those chances are getting less and less. It’s something I desperately want to do at this club I’ve been on such a journey since I arrived, we were down at the bottom of the table every year and now we’re contenders, I’ve been within that period here and I really want to win something to cap it all off. That is a massive goal of mine and of the club’s in general.”
If Grant played in 2021 for the Tigers it would be his 10th season as a player at Wheldon Road, a remarkable feat and he’s not hidden his desire to do just that by speaking publicly about his intent on earning a contract extension.
“I’d love another contract, I think I’m playing well enough and it’s just a matter of keeping doing that and hopefully that will come but I wouldn’t be looking for anything long term, from now I think I one-year deal would suit me and probably the club, there’s no risk for either of us in that way. I’m not going to play a year too long and not enjoy myself, if my performances aren’t up to scratch the club wouldn’t be tied into a long deal with me. That’s what I’d be looking for and hopefully it comes about but with what’s going on everything’s been put on hold and it’s a matter of keeping fit and being able to produce a performance when we return.”
Castleford’s pack has been boosted this season with the additions of George Griffin and Tyla Hepi, and as a unit the forwards work together to improve their game. Following on from Liam Watts’ superb season in 2019, ROAR asked if the players around Millo help boost his own performance.
“100% when people are playing well, they pull you along with them, if Wattsy is having a good game he can lift the performance of the rest of the pack and anyone can do that. Dan Smith has been great; Massey is always great and solid for us he’s the type of guy who does all the little things. Even though let’s say if I myself have a big run or a couple of good offloads, you go back and you watch the video on Massey and he’s done all the little things right in his game and it makes you want to live up to that sort of standard.
“In the forward pack we all work hard together, and we work well together, and you take little bits from everyone’s game. It’s a good way to learn and keep improving, you watch your teammates and Wattsy last year had a fantastic year and he pretty much carried our pack at times which was fantastic but I think this year so far everyone has sort of pitched in a bit more and helping out more. If we want to win something, we have all got to play our part.”
That mentality of everyone playing their part was showcased brilliantly in the first home match of the season when Daryl Powell’s side was down on numbers due to injuries, this allowed youngsters Lewis Peachey & Sam Hall had to step up.
“Peachey and Hally both of them are good players, Peachey is just such a tough kid he’s still pretty raw but he’s one of the guys that every time you tackle him at training he huts you and he comes after you when we do full contact stuff, there’s no real fear in the kid he just goes after you.
“Hally’s done bits and pieces with us before but he came and did some 13v13 in the pre-season and to start with, not to be disrespectful to the kid, he was there to make up the numbers but he came in trained well, trained hard and he was really hard to handle and finding his front, putting himself in good positions. The injury crisis hit, and the kid gets a shot so it’s a good lesson for a lot of kids, if you get a chance and you’re training well people will take notice. If you’re good enough, you’re old enough for me and he proved that for me, and I think he’s got a big future ahead of him.”
When jokingly asked if he would mind one of those young Tigers taking his spot Grant replied; “Not yet… give them a few years, they still need a few years to work into it and it just might be about that right time when I’m finished so they can step in.”
Millo gets a buzz too when he helps a fellow Castleford player, not just the youngsters either.
“I’m not going to go up to someone and say ‘you should be doing this’ or ‘you should be doing that’ but a few of the guys will come up and ask me for a little bit of help to pieces of their game and I’m more than happy to help people improve. You don’t want to force yourself onto someone correcting them, but you can always give little tips and pointers. It is a more enjoyable part and you pick up a lot of things over the years and it’s good to sort of pass them onto people and see them improve, it’s really satisfying when you see it implanted in their game.”
Whilst we all cannot wait to see Castleford Tigers back in action, when they do we think it’ll be worth keeping an eye on Grant Millington as he seems to be a man on a mission for himself as well as for the club.
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