WHEN Denny Solomona scored a club record 42 tries for Castleford Tigers last season, few people would have envisaged it ever being surpassed.
It was the greatest number of tries any of their players had amassed in one campaign since their inception in 1926 and it had already taken 22 years to beat the previous best of 40 set by fellow winger St John Ellis.
Solomona, possibly, could have overhauled his own total at some point in the future but we will never know as, within weeks, he had walked out of the club to set up his controversial move to Sale.
Nevertheless, just a few months on and the Aucklander’s less-hyped replacement is quietly setting about his own bid to re-write history.
Greg Eden scored his third hat-trick of the season as the Super League leaders defeated Leeds Rhinos 29-18 in the final game of Magic Weekend on Sunday.
It took him to 18 tries in the competition, where he is the leading scorer, but 21 overall as the former Huddersfield Giants star had also claimed a hat-trick the week before in the Challenge Cup win over St Helens.
With 21 tries in just 15 games, Eden is certainly enjoying a prolific spell and, indeed, is right on course to at least draw level with Solomona’s record – his 42 tries came from 29 appearances.
To hypothesise, at his current rate, Castleford’s signing from Brisbane Broncos would reach that figure in 30 games.
If he stays fit, there are at least 15 fixtures remaining for Tigers, which would take Eden to 30 matches, but they could play as many as 19 more matches if Daryl Powell’s free-flowing side reach both Wembley and Old Trafford.
Last year, it took just one game less for Solomona to reach Eden’s current total, claiming his 21st and 22nd tries of the season in his 14th outing against Wigan on May 26, so there are clear comparisons to be made.
It is awesome playing outside Shenny; it’s a joy and I am learning a lot as well. I reckon he’s set up three-quarters of my tries so far this year.Castleford Tigers’ Greg Eden
For now, though, the 26-year-old is simply enjoying his rich vein of form and Castleford’s irresistible play.
He hailed his team-mates for their creativity in Newcastle, including centre Michael Shenton, whose brilliant pass behind his back set up the second of Eden’s treble.
“It’s credit to Shenny’s skill and Galey’s (Luke Gale’s) eyes to look up and see where I am and they all came in the second half again just like against Saints,” he said of his 18-minute triple blast.
“I think it was down to those two guys rather than myself.
“It is awesome playing outside Shenny; it’s a joy and I am learning a lot as well. I reckon he’s set up three-quarters of my tries so far this year.
“But that’s what wingers are here to do – score – and if players keep providing me with them like that then I will be happy and keep on finishing them off.”
Eden was unlucky not to cross in the first half following an amazing effort from inside his own half which, ironically, was ruled out by video referee Ben Thaler due to Shenton’s obstruction.
“It was a pretty classy try, the one that got chalked off,” he added. “It was touch and go, but it was a pretty good one and it defines how we play.”
For all that illustrated their dazzling attacking style, Castleford also demonstrated their toughness and durability once more, having been level 6-6 at the break but then turning the screw against their derby rivals.
“It was a good sign for us,” said Eden, as they went two points clear of Salford Red Devils at the top.
“The first half was really intense. It was like a final, but we pulled away from them in the second half and if we can keep doing that – pulling away from tight games like that – I think we’ll be going in the right direction.”
Castleford, of course, have never won a league title but remain in fine fettle heading towards the Super 8s and with a Challenge Cup quarter-final to come at Hull FC next month, too.
Furthermore, there is predictable chatter about uncapped Eden potentially forcing his way into the England reckoning for the World Cup especially given national coach Wayne Bennett named just two specialist wingers – Leeds’ Ryan Hall and Huddersfield Giants’ Jermaine McGillvary in his 31-man elite training squad.
“I’m not sure to be honest as there are a lot of good wingers in Super League all fighting for the same spot,” he said, when asked about his chances.
“I’ll just keep trying to do my thing, keep improving and hopefully at some point I’ll get there.
“But first we’ve Widnes at home on Friday and you can’t under-estimate teams down there struggling.
“They’ll be really striving for that win so we need to keep focused, stay on board and play like we do and we should be alright.”
Catalans Dragons have sacked head coach Laurent Frayssinous after the 18-10 Magic Weekend defeat against struggling Huddersfield Giants represented a fifth straight loss.