Castleford’s Wells hoping Super League chief executive receives backing

Jon Wells with Daryl Powell. Picture: Matthew Merrick
Jon Wells with Daryl Powell. Picture: Matthew Merrick

Castleford Tigers director of rugby Jon Wells is backing Robert Elstone to be the right man to help steer Rugby League into a more successful era.

Elstone took over as the Super League chief executive last year and has already overseen a number of changes aimed at improving the game on and off the pitch.

Cas man Wells is hoping everyone in the sport gets behind their chief executive.

He said: “I watch with fascination from the sidelines at the evolution of Super League.

“I think Robert Elstone is fantastic with a broad vision and I hope everybody gets behind him.

“Robert’s spoken about embracing our roots, our hard working, working class, gritty, northern roots, but he’s also in the same sentence spoken about the power of taking the Wigan Warriors to the Nou Camp and having an international appeal.

“The Magic Weekend is an interesting one, the jury’s still out on that and whether it was the right move.

“But at least we’ve got someone who is making decisions rather than just sitting back and I hope that is reflected in the standard of play.

“It might be massive or incidental that the ball sponsor this year has switched to Steeden.

“I know players had issues with the Rhino balls in wet conditions. I know they put an awful lot of work in testing laboratories to try and mitigate against that, but whether it’s a placebo effect or a genuine quality issue I think you’ll see an increase in confidence in the players in their ball handling.”

Wells admitted he has two “hats” on when it comes to promoting the sport with his Castleford job and his other role as part of the Sky Sports TV commentary team.

He explained: “When I’m with Sky my job is to promote the game and to provide a little bit of a tactical insight that the average viewer might not see and appreciate.

“The idea of the team is that people leave knowing a little bit more about the game.

“We start with that premise. I know there have been some criticism of that presentation team and what that presentation team looks like, but we are very hard working and put an awful lot of hours in trying to deliver and bookend what is a great product.

“Ultimately the players are the stars and we are trying to make sure that is how it’s perceived.

“From a Castleford perspective my job is to assist Daryl and the coaching staff.”

When asked what changes he expected to see in 2019, Wells reckoned the number of quality overseas imports would be the most noticeable.

He added: “There’s some big clubs who have really put their money with their mouth is.

“I’m intrigued by Leeds. Lord knows what discussions Kevin Sinfield and Gary Hetherington have been having because from what I can gather from the outside looking in it looks as about at odds with Gary’s philosophy as it’s possible to be.

“There’s some real stars being recruited. “Blake Austin’s a magnificent signing, Trent Merrin and Tuimoala Lolohea as well, a player we showed quite a bit of interest in, in the middle of last year and will I’m sure do well.

“Kane Linnett at Hull KR, I’m a big fan of his.

“These are not journeymen, I expect them to add something to Super League.

“We’ve raised a lot of raised eyebrows about the lack of signings and transfer movement at the Tigers. But my answer to that would be that those other clubs needed to spend money, Leeds in particular needed to rebuild their club from the ground up.

“Warrington made two major finals last year and walked away with nothing, they needed to make changes.

“We’re a club that’s come from a lower base and is building steadily and resolutely - and I think we have a very good squad here.”