Castleford Tigers key man faces eight-week layoff

Castleford Tigers will be without one of their first-choice players for around eight weeks, coach Lee Radford has confirmed.

Speaking at his weekly press conference on Tuesday, Radford revealed full-back Niall Evalds has undergone surgery on biceps damage suffered in the Easter Monday win over Leeds Rhinos.

The coach, though, feels the injury has come at a good time in the season.

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“The Challenge Cup semi-finals are next week, so we’ve got a weekend off,” Radford said.

Tigers coach Lee Radford. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.Tigers coach Lee Radford. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.
Tigers coach Lee Radford. Picture by Bruce Rollinson.

“The Cup final is in there and the England mid-season international as well, so of the eight, there’s three weeks when we don’t have a fixture.

“It sounds daft, but it could not have happened at a better time during the year.”

Winger James Clare filled in at full-back in last Friday's win over St Helens, but several other options for the role are also on the casualty list.

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Greg Eden was ruled out last weekend with a muscular injury and Radford said he is expected to miss Friday’s visit to Catalans Dragons.

Gareth O'Brien, who can also play as last line of defence, is filling in at half-back in place of long-term casualty Danny Richardson.

But Radford said Ryan Hampshire, who rejoined Tigers last month but suffered a broken hand playing for the reserves, is close to being available.

“He has had his pot off this week so he is not far around the corner,” the coach confirmed.

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“We brought him in earlier in the season for that reason, he can free Gaz [O’Brien] up and can play six as well.

“The quicker we can get him back, during this period, is really important for us.

“He has had clearance from the specialist and it’s just a matter of getting strength up in his grip.”

Winger Sosaia Feki, who has played just once in his three seasons at Tigers, is back in training and “looking well”, Radford said.

“The finish line is closer for him and [hamstring victim] Jacques O’Neill than it was a month or two ago.”