Dave Craven: Milner's loyalty to Castleford Tigers is good news for English game

THE news that Adam Milner has re-signed for Castleford Tigers, despite interest from the NRL, is not only terrific for the club but Super League as well.

Adam Milner.
Adam Milner.

Clearly, it must have been a difficult decision for the industrious loose forward to make.

He could either move to Australia and challenge himself in the world’s best competition with a whole new way of life or stay with the club he has always known and hopefully play a part in writing some history with them.

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In fairness, either way, Milner could not lose but he is deserving of that chance to decide his own career path because of the way he has honed his talent and emerged as one of Super League’s finest forwards. Personally, I think he would have thrived in the NRL with his naturally combative, no-nonsense approach and appetite for hard work but also his ability to promote the ball as he does.

But it seems the lure of hopefully playing a part in the first Castleford side to ever lift a league title was too hard to resist.

You can understand that point as well; Milner has been part of the club’s exciting renaissance since Daryl Powell took over in 2013, reaching a Challenge Cup final and then, last year, making a maiden Grand Final after lifting the League Leaders’ Shield.

There is a feeling among the Wheldon Road camp that they will eventually win one of the two big trophies – perhaps both – in the near future.

You could imagine the player’s disappointment if he wasn’t around to experience that having already spent eight years helping the transformation.

At 26, and having signed for three more years, Milner could go on, achieve those aims and still potentially sample what Australia has to offer later down the line.

On the other hand, Ryan Hall has already done it all and won everything there is to win in Super League.

That is why it is pleasing to see him announce this week that the NRL will be his next stomping ground when he leaves Leeds Rhinos at the end of the season for Sydney Roosters.

Hall will depart not only with six Grand Final winners rings, two Challenge Cup winners medals and a World Club Challenge but also with his reputation in tact as one of the greatest wingers of his generation.

For all he is now 30, there is no sign of him losing any of his quality and, even though tries have not arrived as prolifically in recent years (mainly down to Leeds’s style), he remains such a crucial player for both club and country.

Always a strong carrier, Hall’s ability to bring the ball out of backfield is vital and he remains one of the sport’s finest finishers.

Unlike Milner, Australians already know all about him following his fine exploits for England against them over the years.

It will, then, be great soon to see him face them on a weekly basis in their domestic league.

Whereas some players have tried the NRL only to quickly return for one reason or another –Joe Burgess, Dan Sarginson, Joe Greenwood and Joe Wardle in recent times – you would expect Hall to take to it just as well as the likes of Sam Burgess, James Graham and co.

For England’s development, it would be good to see more players go there and flourish, improving them for Test level football.

That Milner is staying, though, shows that Super League can still retain quality as well.

Its new chief executive Robert Elstone, for one, will hope more follow his lead.

However, salary cap restraints here compared to the NRL mean that won’t always be the case.