ALL the talk is about Daryl Clark’s return to Castleford tomorrow but his former coach is just as mindful of another hooker who will be appearing in Warrington Wolves colours.
Brad Dwyer, 22, is one of Super League’s form players despite initially expecting to spend the entirety of this season on loan with Championship club London Broncos.
When experienced Warrington hooker Mickey Higham controversially decided he wanted to move to Leigh Centurions near the end of May, Wolves coach Tony Smith actually had to pay a fee to bring the young rake back home to help out Man of Steel Clark.
Since then, the diminutive player who spent time on loan with Swinton Lions last year and Huddersfield Giants the season before that, has proved a dynamic force with his pace around the rucks and his fine passing game leading to some stellar assists.
Dwyer has even overshadowed Clark, the England hooker who left home-town Tigers in a £180,000 deal at the end of last season and has yet to really recapture the form that saw him earn his international debut in 2014, win Man of Steel and, also, Super League’s Young Player of the Year.
“With Clarkey coming back here we know his threats but Brad Dwyer is playing really well up the middle, too,” admitted coach Daryl Powell. “Our big men will have to be good.
“He’s had an interesting journey, really. He’s been around a number of clubs and played here and there for Warrington but just the way it’s gone with Mickey Higham has given him a great opportunity.
“He’s certainly grabbed it and looks really sharp, aggressive, he’s defending well and his ability with the ball to break the line is very, very good.
“They leave those two (Clark and Dwyer) on at same time at the moment, too, so there’s a double threat.
“With Stefan Ratchford getting in at nine as well, they are difficult to defend up the middle with their dummy-half runs.”
On Clark – also 22 – Powell added: “It’s been a tough one for Clarkey. He came back from that England tour and had a little bit of an injury that he found difficult and sometimes, when a club pays a lot of money for you, the expectation is pretty massive. But he’s been showing some better form recently and just needs to hang in there.
“He’s a good quality player and he will challenge us this week; you don’t want to take your eye off him around the ruck as he is electric.”
Fifth-placed Castleford, who have won six of their last seven league games, know a win tomorrow is likely to keep them level with Huddersfield in fourth but, crucially open a six-point gap between them and sixth-placed Warrington ahead of the Super 8s.
Any such victory would heap pressure on Wolves and potentially even end their bid for that top-four spot.
Castleford coach Daryl Powell switches Ashley Gibson to the wing in place of Denny Solomona, who is out with an ankle injury, and will choose between Michael Channing and Jake Webster for the vacant centre spot.