Albert Goldthorpe Medal winner Luke Gale has been backed to play for England by his Castleford Tigers head coach.
Daryl Powell believes Gale’s consistency in his first year with the Tigers makes him the outstanding scrum-half candidate to be included in Steve McNamara’s squad for the autumn tests against New Zealand.
He said: “He should have a good chance of getting in this year. If you look at the next half-back on the Albert Goldthorpe it’s Danny Brough and he’s not available.
“Not that that’s the only measure, but he’s been good, he’s been consistently outstanding for us, his kicking game’s great, he’s a good goalkicker, he takes the line on, he’s a winner and real threat with the ball.
“You look around the comp and I don’t see any better on a consistent basis.
“Galey would say that perhaps at the start he struggled a little bit to get in tune with what I wanted from him.
“It was a change from one club to another and our standards in terms of winning games on a consistent basis.
“But he is a winner, you see that all the time, it just took him a while to settle into the way we want to play – and since he has I think he’s grown significantly as a player and as a leader within the group.
“He’s been helped by some key men around him – I think Michael Shenton has been awesome for him since he went to the left side of the field – but he’s had a really big season.
“I still think there’s loads of improvement in him and he looks like an England international whether it’s this time or in the near future.”
Gale has made no secret of his wish to play for England and hopes he has caught the attention of the England boss.
He said: “You can only play week-in, week-out and hopefully you catch Steve McNamara’s eye.
“I will be looking for a big game on Thursday and a big game against Wigan and hopefully he will see that.
“I just aim to play consistently and if I got announced in the squad it’s happy days.
“It will mean the world to me to be in the squad. As a kid you want to play for England or for whatever country you’re born in you want to represent your country.”
Gale is honoured to become the latest recipient of the League Express’s Albert Goldthorpe Medal, handed out to the Super League player who picks up the most points in marks for performances in all the matches over the season.
He said: ”It’s nice to be honoured and it’s good that someone has nominated me and I’ve won the award, but it’s not something you look at personally.
“You just want to play consistently week-in, week-out.
“I’ve got the accolade with winning the Albert Goldthorpe Medal, but with this team they get you on the front foot and make my job easier.
“When you play number seven you need your team to be going forward and our middles have been great this year.
“It’s good to play in a side that likes to play a bit and it’s suited me well.
“Powelly likes us to play rugby and express ourselves so it’s good to throw the ball about and score some points. Just hopefully we can tidy that defence up.”
Gale is pleased with the way it has gone for him and for the team in the first year since his move from Bradford.
He added: “It’s my first year and a new half-back combination, with Ben Roberts or Liam Finn whoever it’s been.
“We have got a lot of new players this year. There was a big turnaround and it’s always hard to get the combinations right. At the start of the year I think that showed.
“We started really poorly, but as we’ve gone on we’ve got better and better and it’s unfortunate we’ve finished fifth, just one outside the play-offs.
“It has gone well for me personally and I think with another pre-season we can grow again.”