Gale is backed to step up as key leader for Castleford

Luke Gale.
Luke Gale.

Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is backing Luke Gale to step up to do a leadership job after confirming he will take over as captain following the serious injury suffered by Michael Shenton.

Gale could be the skipper for the rest of the 2016 campaign after Shenton suffered an anterior cruciate ligament injury during last Sunday’s Super League opener at Hull KR.

The injury, caused by an illegal tackle by Hull KR’s John Boudebza for which he has received a four-match ban, could see the England centre sidelined for the entire season and head coach Powell admitted it was a huge blow to lose Shenton’s leadership qualities. But he reckons he can call on an able deputy in scrum-half Gale.

He told the Express: “Luke Gale will be captain. He’s a different type of leader to Michael, but I think it’s a great opportunity for him.

“I’ve spoken to him about this already. It’s a great opportunity for him to grow his own ability as the key leader within the team.

“You don’t always get these opportunities so it’s a great chance to show why he should be the England scrum-half at the end of the season.

“It’s obviously a big blow to lose Michael. He’s a quality player, quality bloke and quality leader as well so clearly that’s tough blow to have to take first game of the season.

“It’s massively disappointing for Shenny and it is for us as a team.

“But it’s happened and we have to deal with it. There’s only one way to go about it and that’s for everybody to work hard. A few of the guys who are senior players who perhaps have some leadership they haven’t shown need it to come out now.

“We’ve got enough in there, a lot of good quality boys who lead the team anyway. I’m sure they will step up and we’ll move forward.

“This season is an important one in terms of doing the job for ourselves and obviously for Shenny as well.”

Powell believes he has got good cover for Shenton in his centre position.

He said: “We do have some depth at centre. Jake Webster stepped in last Sunday and did a really job and Greg Minikin now becomes a step closer.

“Greg’s shown he’s got plenty of ability and we’ve obviously got Ben Crooks and Jake in the first team spots now.

“We’ve got Frankie Mariano about a month away and we’ve got Mike McMeeken who can also play in the centres so we’re not too skinny there.”

Cas came out of the Hull KR game with no further injuries and could have prop Andy Lynch back for this Sunday’s first home game of the season against Wakefield Wildcats after the pack leader missed the trip to the KC Lightstream Stadium.

Powell explained: “Andy Lynch had an operation on his hands that required further surgery and we were hopeful that the scars would have healed, but it was too much of a risk to put him out there at Hull KR.

“Hopefully he’ll be okay this week. If he does make it then I’ve got to make a decision on what happens to the bench.

“Jake Webster will slot in for Shenny and I’ll make a decision on where I go with the other bench slot.”