Posted: Tuesday 19th September 2023
Tigers youngsters stepping up
The Academy welcomed their newest intake of players last night with a brilliant 16 players stepping up from the Scholarship level ahead of pre-season
The Academy welcomed their newest intake of players last night with a brilliant 16 players stepping up from the Scholarship level ahead of pre-season.
Alongside those, three players stepped up from the Academ system to the Reserve grade on a permanent basis, although through their time with the Academy, all three have featured heavily in Scott Murrell’s reserve side.
Head of Youth Development, Rob Nickolay spoke of his pride that the club has so many young talented players making their way through the ranks, and believes that this is only the start.
“It’s a real honour to have a number of the Scholarship boys pushing through to the Academy. It’s a real testament to them, the community clubs and their parents. The Scholarship have had a good year, they’ve been great and put their best foot forwards. Credit to them and they’ll strengthen the academy next year. We have a good bunch of boys coming through. There’s some good players above them. This year we’ve gone with a lot of first years so going into next year we will have a healthy balance.”
“Alongside them we have Alfie Dean, Jaiden Linford and Josh Wagstaffe who are progressing into being reserve players so it’s been a great night.”
Since regaining the Academy license, the club’s pathway has gone from strength-to-strength with the hard work coming to fruition. Young Fletcher Rooney made his first appearance in the Tigers’ First Team 21-man squad for their penultimate Super League game against Wigan Warriors. Although he didn’t feature, he stepped up in the week prior to train with the First team.
He hasn’t been the only Academy product to get a sniff of First Team action though. Earlier in the season, Aaron Willis made his First Team debut and Nickolay believes that seeing more talent featuring at the top level within the club that they have progressed in, can only mean good things for the future.
“Fletcher Rooney has excelled this year alongside those Academy boys and I can see that in the future there’s going to be a fair few of them pushing into the squad and knocking on the door of the First Team like Fletcher. We also had Aaron Willis making his debut for the First Team. I’d like to think that we’ve had the shoots of the talent coming through from the Academy. Since regaining our license, the proof really is in the pudding and we want to really improve our player productivity over the next few years.”
“I think, as a club, we have a really clear plan over the next five years of where we want to go and how we want to develop the players. Fans will see the resurgence of the squad and what that looks like over the coming months and that’s going to be built on local talent. That has already started with Aaron and Fletcher so I think there’ll be many more, but that is our job to provide that conveyor belt really.”
With pre-season set to get underway in the coming months, Rob provided a key piece of advice to the emerging talent and hopes to keep them dreaming, but working hard to get through the system and progress to great things.
“The hard work starts now. Nothing is given. We have some really clear ideas on what we want a Castleford Tigers player to look like at every age group and that will be really apparent to them. It’s not that they are now at the top of the mountain, it’s just the start of the climb which will kick on in pre-season.”
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