Castleford Tigers boss Lee Radford outlines recruitment plan as he assesses season so far

Castleford Tigers will target younger players in their recruitment drive for 2023, head coach Lee Radford has revealed.

Radford wasted no time in putting his stamp on the squad, bringing in eight new players in the off-season including Joe Westerman, Jake Mamo and Kenny Edwards.

Although the Tigers signed young duo Alex Sutcliffe and Callum McLelland from Leeds Rhinos, there was a focus on experience as Radford went down the tried and tested route for his first season in charge.

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Now he has settled into the role, Radford plans to bring down the average age of his squad with an injection of youth.

Lee Radford wants to freshen up his Castleford squad. (Picture: SWPix.com)

“We need to put some younger legs in the squad,” Radford told The Yorkshire Post after the transfer window officially opened on May 1.

“If you look at the 17, on average we’re the oldest team in the competition.

“That has its pluses in terms of management and experience but you do need some youth and enthusiasm in there as well.”

Castleford lacked energy in their last outing in Perpignan, where Radford’s men went down 44-12 to Catalans Dragons.

Lee Radford arrives in Perpignan. (Picture: SWPix.com)

Friday’s defeat ended a four-game winning streak in Super League and was just as painful second time around for Radford during Monday’s review session.

“Unfortunately we had to go through the pain again,” said Radford.

“It was a really disappointing performance. It was an attitude thing. They were on the rebound from being bullied by Hull’s pack, we copped the back end of it and weren’t quite at it on the day.

“Against a big physical dominant pack like that you have to match them or be better than them to get over the top of them and we weren’t.”

Castleford Tigers were second best against Catalans Dragons. (Picture: SWPix.com)

The Tigers have two weeks to lick their wounds before hosting Hull KR on May 15.

The break gives Radford some much-needed time with his players on the training field after a hectic period but he would trade that for the chance to put things right this week.

He added: “It’s difficult to put your finger on it. Nobody ever goes out to play poorly. Nobody ever puts their kit on and says, ‘I’m going to have a poor performance today’.

“But they clearly weren’t at it in the areas that we needed them to be. It’s the first time I’ve seen it over an 80-minute period this year. We’ve got to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Castleford beat a young St Helens side last month. (Picture: SWPix.com)

“I wish we were playing this week because I could sense the disappointment today (Monday) and the fact they wanted to get back out on the field.

“It’s good in terms of recharging our batteries but I would much rather be playing this weekend to right some wrongs after last week’s performance.”

When Castleford do return to action against the Robins on Sunday week, Danny Richardson, Ryan Hampshire and Greg Eden are all likely to feature following spells on the sidelines through injury.

The game will come too soon for Sosaia Feki but the winger is closing in on his long-awaited Super League debut after coming through his comeback match for the reserves unscathed.

“He did okay,” said Radford on Feki, who has been limited to 26 minutes of first-team action since joining the club ahead of the 2020 season.

“He played 40 minutes and had no issues or recurrences of any injuries so we’re pleased with that.”

Radford has the chance to take stock during the hiatus after playing every side in the competition over the opening 11 rounds.

Castleford are eighth in the Super League table with a record of five wins and six defeats, which Radford believes is skewed by a poor start with a depleted team.

As the Tigers re-energise ahead of May dates with Hull KR and Salford Red Devils, Radford has a play-off spot in his sights.

“The table doesn’t lie,” he said.

“We got off to an awful start in terms of suspensions and injuries. You look at our team those first six rounds and nobody was getting left out of the squad, put it that way.

“That was difficult but once we got our main core of players back on the field, we’ve been a lot better for it and look a lot better for it.

“We’re two games away from the halfway point in the season. If we beat Hull KR we go into the (top) six and that’s what we want to achieve.

“We’ve played Hull KR twice now and haven’t given anything like a good showing of ourselves. If that doesn’t sting, nothing will.”