Salford Red Devils v Castleford Tigers: Gareth O'Brien relishing competition for spine spots

Castleford Tigers playmaker Gareth O'Brien may have a fight on his hands to keep his spot in the team but he insists competition for places can only be a good thing.

Injury and suspension issues left Castleford low on numbers in the early part of the season, contributing to a slow start in Super League.

But fresh from a fifth win in six games with a healthier squad, Lee Radford has the right kind of selection headaches ahead of tomorrow's trip to Salford Red Devils.

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Half-back Danny Richardson is back in the mix after coming through a reserves game unscathed, while full-back Niall Evalds is due to return next month.

Gareth O'Brien heads back to former club Salford this week. (Picture: SWPix.com)

O'Brien is also battling with Jake Trueman and Ryan Hampshire for a place in the spine but he can only see positives from the increased competition.

"To have the strength in depth we've got here now is brilliant," he said.

"There's definitely competition for places and if you're not performing, there's a bloke there to take your spot.

"I thought Ryan Hampshire was outstanding last weekend and it's something we needed with Niall missing for a little bit. He's on the mend and Danny is back fit so nobody's spot is 100 per cent.

Gareth O'Brien celebrates a try against Leeds. (Picture: SWPix.com)

"It's down to the players out there to keep their spot. It's all good competition."

O'Brien, Trueman and Hampshire all played important roles in last week's rout of Hull KR, a result that saw Castleford replace the Robins in the top six.

The Tigers are looking up rather than down but there is no hint of complacency as they prepare to face ninth-placed Salford, big winners over Leeds Rhinos last time out.

"We were 1-5 at one stage so to get back to 6-6 at the halfway stage is a good response," said O'Brien.

"We'd like to be a little bit higher than we are but we've done well to claw back some wins and it's another big game against Salford on Friday.

"It's a massive test. Similar to Hull KR, they're a very good attacking team.

"They put up a good performance against Leeds and are coming off the back of a good win.

"We're going to have to be good in defence. It's going to be a good game."

O'Brien enjoyed a memorable spell with Salford between 2015 and 2018, famously keeping the club in Super League courtesy of a remarkable long-range drop goal against Hull KR in the Million Pound Game.

"I look back fondly," he added.

"I was under Ian Watson at the time and it was a great two and a half years I had there.

"Being part of that Million Pound Game squad and the finish to that game is something I'll never forget. You make friends for life when you bounce from club to club.

"It was a really enjoyable time in my career and I still keep in touch with some fans there so I'm really looking forward to going back to the AJ Bell."