The battle to fill the vacant centre slot in the Castleford Tigers line-up is on with Greg Minikin and Tuoyo Egodo both taking their chance to impress head coach Daryl Powell in the first pre-season game against Featherstone Rovers.
The departure of Jake Webster has left Powell with a hole to fill in his right centre position and the club looking increasingly unlikely to bring in a signing before the start of the 2019 Super League season.
Tigers boss Powell believes the solution lies within the existing squad with a number of candidates in the running to fill Webster’s boots.
Minikin, who was signed from York in 2016 as a centre for the future, is in pole position to be the starting number three with his own desire to play there and Powell’s belief that this will eventually be his best position.
At 23 years of age he has plenty of experience with 65 first team appearances, mostly on the wing for Castleford, and he has been impressing in pre-season training, looking fitter than last year when he had a stop-start campaign.
But Minikin faces competition at centre from fit again Alex Foster who filled the role impressively on a short term basis in 2018 and from another of the Tigers’ recruits for the future in Egodo, who has yet to have a settled run in the senior side, but looked ready to step up when giving an eye-catching display against Featherstone.
Powell was pleased with both Minikin and Egodo in last Sunday’s game.
He said: “Greg Minikin did well and looked strong.
“I thought he needed to give himself a bit more time on the ball to beat people, particularly from the scrum. But he’s looking physically better this year so I’m expecting a lot from him. Tuoyo was really good. He was strong, aggressive, got through the line and defensively he was really good. I was impressed with him.
“He’s one of those players who plays better than he trains.
“We’re trying to get him to train a fair bit better to give himself a chance of improving.
“Physically there’s a player in there. What we’re working on is making sure mentally there is a player in there as well.
“I thought he was good, really strong and he made a real strong statement.”
Powell was pleased with his side’s first hit out of the new season as they ran in 11 unanswered tries to win 56-0.
He said: “We had a few senior players in there in and around the young boys and they were outstanding
“Then the young players. We haven’t been fantastic in getting young players through over the last few years, but I look at those players, there’s a mix of ages, and you can see there’s some players who are going to be playing Super League rugby in there. That was really pleasing.
“Featherstone had a mixed side as well, but I thought the way we defended and the attitude we showed, some of the control and composure was good.”
Powell picked out half-back Cory Aston for praise after he gave a controlling display to give food for thought in his position ahead of the season proper.
He added: “Calum Turner was good, but I would have thought Cory would have just pipped him because of his 80 minute performance.
“He needs to keep doing things like that.
“Defensively he was pretty solid and he created quite a lot on the left edge. He went into nine and kicked two 40-20s from dummy-half and it was a really solid performance from him. He has come with a better attitude this year, he’s had a great attitude to pre-season training.
“He looks stiffer physically. If you get your attitude spot on and you work hard you give yourself a chance.”