Jordan Turner happy to play in any position for Castleford Tigers

AT THE age of 32, Castleford Tigers’ Jordan Turner must have thought even the prospect of ever playing on the wing had long gone.

A dynamic centre when he first emerged in the sport, he has also played stand-off, loose forward and back-row as his career progressed with Salford Red Devils, Hull FC, St Helens, Canberra Raiders and Huddersfield Giants.

Traditionally, as sprightly backs get older, they might find themselves being nudged further inside towards the pack. Not the other way.

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However, Turner, who joined Castleford from Huddersfield in the off-season, found himself starting on the left flank for the West Yorkshire club’s Super League opener against Warrington Wolves on Sunday.

He managed the transition quite well; Turner showed a winger’s natural finishing ability to score twice in the Tigers’ 21-12 success at Emerald Headingley.

Speaking to The Yorkshire Post, the Jamaica international revealed the unusual positional switch was a career first.

“Someone asked me if I’d ever played on the wing before and, to be honest, I’m not sure if I ever have,” said Turner, who eased Daryl Powell’s selection issues with specialist widemen Sosaia Feki, James Clare and Greg Eden all sidelined.

“I can’t ever remember playing on the wing. Maybe I’ve been named there but I can’t remember actually playing there before.

WINNING START: Jordan Turner celebrates with his Castleford Tigers teammates during Sunday's victory over Warrington. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

“There’s only really full-back as one of the few positions I’ve not done over the years. I even did a bit of nine at Salford.

“And when I signed for Castleford, if you’d have asked me, I wasn’t ever expecting to play wing.

“But, in fairness, I’m not fully on the wing; me and Shenny (centre Michael Shenton) have a bit of a dual role where we switch around a bit. It worked out quite well on Sunday.”

Powell’s prescience meant Turner was not thrown in at the deep end against Warrington.

PREPARED: Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell put Jordan Turner on the wing during some training sessions. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com.

“We’ve been doing it for a good four weeks in training,” he added.

“We’re obviously a bit low on wingers.

“Sosaia Feki went down early on in pre-season and James Clare had surgery before.

“Daryl didn’t say anything but I think he might have had it in the back of his mind that he’d do this if we had an injury to a winger.

FLYING FINISH: From Jordan Turner. Picture: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

“We only had Greg and Derrell (Olpherts) and I think this was his back-up plan. Then Greg did pick up a slight injury in pre-season so it just happened that we did have to go with it.”

Turner’s versatility is one of the reasons Castleford were keen to bring him to Wheldon Road.

Discussing the differences from centre to wing, he maintains they are only subtle.

“The back of the field stuff is no different to what I normally do anyway,” said the Oldham-born player, who won the 2014 Grand Final with St Helens playing stand-off.

“Carrying the ball from the back of the field is what I base my game on anyway, if I’m playing centre.

“And I’m not defending on the wing. I defended in the centre so when teams are kicking Shenny’s the one dropping back.

“The only thing that was slightly different for me was that I was on the wing in our good ball attacking sets so I had to get my timing a little different.

“Daryl picked me up on that in training; when I first started training there I wasn’t quite getting my timing right at the end of plays.

“I’ve been working on that. And it came off in the game.”

Turner twice perfectly latched on to cut-out passes from Niall Evalds, the Castleford full-back who also made a try-scoring debut after joining from Salford.

In Shaun Wane’s England squad, the uncapped Evalds is renowned for his electric running, line-breaking and support play, not necessarily his distribution.

Just as Turner has learned new skills, so has he.

“It must be something Niall has worked on in his game over the last couple of years,” he said.

“I remember when he first came through and was playing full-back, when I used to play against him, passing wasn’t his strength. But now, he’s caught me out a lot in training - so many times - with his passing out of the back. And I do like to think I’m a good defender on the edge.

“I’d imagine the wingers at Cas will score quite a few tries this year with Niall and, when he plays, Gaz (O’Brien) out of the back, too.

“We have some good creative players there.”

Castleford face Leeds Rhinos at St Helens on Good Friday. With O’Brien injured, Turner could find himself back in the halves.

But he insisted: “Who knows?

“I knew when I signed for Cas I might end up playing multiple roles. As long as I’m playing, that’s all I’m concerned about.”

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