HIS TACTICAL kicking game has reached new heights this season but Castleford Tigers half-back Jake Trueman maintains he is no “natural” and improvements came in unusual circumstances.
The reigning Super League Young Player of the Year will look to dissect Huddersfield Giants tonight as they head over to the John Smith’s Stadium for the televised clash.
He gave another masterclass with his left foot last Friday as – both in terms of his short and long kicking – the gifted stand-off helped complete a thrilling comeback to overturn champions Wigan Warriors at Wheldon Road.
Indeed, with three half-backs still injured, including England No7 Luke Gale, the 20-year-old continues to belie his age with the maturity of his accomplished performances.
However, Trueman explained how he had to re-boot his kicking game after switching to Castleford’s left-edge when Gale was ruled out for the entire year following a pre-season training injury.
“I’m probably not the most natural kicker and I’ve had to do some extras to work on it,” he said.
“Last year playing on the right I practised all my kicking on the right and then it changed in pre-season to the left.
“It was tough and I struggled a lot in pre-season with my kicking; in training a lot of my kicks were going out on the full so it’s been a lot of work to get it right. Normally if you are left-footed you actually prefer kicking on the left, but I’m the other way because of the way I kick when I swing my boot round.
“I’ve had to slightly change my style with (Castleford assistant) Ryan Sheridan, who’s been doing a lot of extras with me.
“But it felt good against Wigan and I’m looking forward to heading to Huddersfield next.”
I’m probably not the most natural kicker and I’ve had to do some extras to work on it.Jake Trueman
Admittedly, having come from 20 points down to beat Wigan 38-28, Castleford – up to third in Super League – will be hoping to make things less difficult for themselves this evening.
However, Huddersfield are finding their own feet having beaten Hull KR and London Broncos before only losing due to the boot of another left-foot on Friday – former captain Danny Brough’s late drop-goal earning Wakefield Trinity a 17-16 win.
“They’ve been looking better these last few weeks,” said Trueman, knowing Huddersfield will be further improved tonight with the return from injuries of recent Castleford team-mate Joe Wardle, his talented young brother Jake, stand-off Lee Gaskell and loose forward Aaron Murphy.
“They had a bit of a shaky start, but I think they did it last year as well, started pretty slow then built into it, so I think they’ll go well. Their coach (Simon Woolford) is good; he’s got them playing good rugby and it will be tough for us this week.”
Meanwhile, Castleford coach Daryl Powell has been fined £5,000 – suspended until the end of this season – for entering the field of play during his side’s defeat against St Helens last month.
Struggling Leeds Rhinos have signed Cronulla Sharks prop Ava Seumanufagai, 27, on a two-and-a-half-year deal while Wakefield Trinity’s Jordan Baldwinson has joined York City Knights on loan.