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Castleford Tigers coach delivers passionate international rugby league plea

Castleford’s Director of Rugby Operations has outlined the club’s plans moving forward.

Castleford Tigers’ Director of Rugby Operations Danny Wilson has outlined the club’s recruitment plans following a serious injury to star centre Sam Wood, as well as the departure of quota player Charbel Tasipale.

Wood has been ruled out for the season after suffering a shoulder injury while on international duty for England, a bitter blow for the Tigers following his excellent performances this season. Meanwhile, back-rower Tasipale recently departed on compassionate grounds, freeing up an overseas spot for the club to utilise.

That has resulted in speculation surrounding the club’s recruitment plans, with many expecting them to use the quota spot unallocated. Wood’s injury has resulted in many wondering if a centre would become a priority.

However, Wilson has confirmed that the developments have not altered their recruitment plans, with long-term planning being the priority. That will see the club give opportunities to existing players while continuing to focus on the overseas market in 2025.

Speaking to Rugby League Live, Wilson said: “It’s very unfortunate for Sam and us as a club. He’s playing his best rugby. The positive is that he can come back stronger next year, and we’re looking forward to seeing him push on again.

“In terms of replacing him, we have a young player in Will Tate who is coming back and is going to get some game time at reserve level or potentially on loan, and Josh Hodson is close to a return too.

“We want to get players some games at Super League level with a view to nurturing them and developing them into regular Super League players in the future. That’s been our recruitment model, and so when an opportunity comes up, we want them to take it.”

That said, neither Tate nor Hodson are currently at full fitness, leaving the club short of options. With that in mind, Wilson admitted that the club may look at the loan market to identify potential options to help the team in the short term, admitting that was the more likely course of action than a permanent addition.

“We’ve had some really good performances as of late, and we want to build on that week-on-week going into the latter stages of the season. If we need to look at the loan market to do that, it’s something we will do. But any business we do has to benefit us for the next one or two years.”

Despite reports stating Castleford are currently pursuing players to fill the vacant quota spot now, Wilson expects the club will not use it until the 2025 season, unless a loan option comes to the fore.

“For that quota spot, again, it has to be used on somebody who will be with us for a year or two. If we were to sign someone for four months, there’s no real point long-term. Anyone we sign has to fit into our plans for the next couple of years. If we are going to bring someone in, it will be for a longer period than to the end of the year.”

Asked if he expected that overseas spot to be used next season rather than this year, Wilson said: “Yes, absolutely. Like I said, where we are in the league, it’s of benefit to us to be developing our own players. We want them, even at the academy level, to get more runs on the board as that’s all within our plan to make us a better club moving forward. We want to compete and win games, but we want that to be done in a certain way beyond short-term fixes.”

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