Castleford Tigers star Nathan Massey and Francis Stephenson proving Rugby League Cares for life after the game

Nathan Massey has at least another two years left as a Castleford Tigers player but he already has plans in place when he decides to hang up his boots.

Castleford's Nathan Massey (Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWPix.com)

The forward has spent his entire career with Castleford, barring a handful of loan spells in his early days as he established himself as a Super League player, and agreed a contract extension earlier this year.

Having turned 32 in July, Massey’s preparations for when he calls time on his career are in full swing.

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When he is not training or playing, he works with Castleford-based business Castlewater Bathrooms and has helped to create a new branch of the company, CastleLuxe Lighting.

Nathan Massey in action for Castleford Tigers ( Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe)

He has done that alongside company owner Craig Caulfield and will move into that line of work on a full-time basis when his playing days are over.

Massey is grateful to have something that will help him transition into retirement and he has already been giving advice to some of the Tigers younger players on how to prepare for the end of their rugby league careers.

“We do get quite a bit of spare time with rugby so it is just about using that time productively,” Massey, who returned for pre-season training this week, told The Yorkshire Post.

“Some days we can finish training at 12pm and then a lot of boys go home and play on PlayStations and stuff like that.

Francis Stephenson of Wakefield runs at the London line. He now runs Rugby League Cares (Picture: Steve Riding)

“I am coming to the back end of my career now and I need to start putting things in place for when I retire.

“I have enjoyed the job, it is a good learning curve.

“I tried to tell a lot of the young boys that your career can go by pretty quickly. I am grateful to Craig for giving me the opportunity to have a smooth transition from playing. I know a lot of players can find it difficult if they don’t have something set up.”

Caulfield worked as a gas engineer when he left school but started to fit bathrooms during the summer when the engineering work quietened down.

Just under four years ago he founded Castlewater Bathrooms before joining forces with Massey to develop CastleLuxe Lighting.

He explained: “We turned the showroom around in 12 weeks from an old pet shop into what it is now.

“It has grown pretty fast. A couple of girls that work for us kept mentioning lighting.

“I was in Leeds and saw a lighting showroom and it was packed so last Christmas me and Nathan got our heads together.

“We had a supplier approach us, we crunched some sums, saw the profit margins and the pound signs went rolling.”

Preparing players for retirement is something that independent charity Rugby League Cares prides themselves on. They provide education and training grants to help give players the skills and qualifications they need to help them for the next stage of their lives. Francis Stephenson is the transition manager with the organisation, having enjoyed a playing career with Wakefield Trinity, London Broncos, Wigan Warriors and Hull KR.

“Over the last five to 10 years, there has been more of a move to encourage players to plan and prepare for life after rugby,” said Stephenson.

“They have got a lot of resources and support around them with a career coach provided through Rugby League Cares and a player welfare manager at each club.

“One of the things that has helped us recently is the pandemic. With a lot of players put on furlough, it gave them an insight into what life might actually be like after rugby, so that has accelerated their thinking a little bit. We are having more and more players asking for guidance and support on how to plan for their career.”

Massey has noticed the work of Rugby League Cares, adding: “There is a lot of things coming out from Rugby League Cares, they are trying to push younger players to do courses and stuff like that.

“I have been working with Craig for a number of years and now have something to fall back on when my career is done.”