CASTLEFORD Tigers boss Ian Millward is set to give kids a chance when he takes his team to Hull’s KC Stadium for their final game of the 2012 Super League season.
With half-back Jamie Ellis and prop forward Steve Nash adding to the Tigers’ long absentee list, Millward is down to bare bones squad-wise and is set to give more youngsters an opportunity to impress.
Millward confirmed to the Express that 20-year-old Ben Johnston would be given another opportunity after making his first two senior appearances last month and two others would also be in the 19-man squad to travel across the M62.
Johnston is likely to start in a half-back position, allowing Rangi Chase to continue at full-back after he impressed in the position on his comeback from injury against Catalan.
Millward said: “Our biggest problem for the game at Hull is that with the two new players out we’ve got a very thin squad. Steve Nash got a horrendous head injury and won’t be able to play and Jamie Ellis is out for months.We’ve probably got three more players who are out as well.
“We will have to bring a couple of young kids in to fill the gaps left. It’s likely Ben Johnston will come back in and then we’ll probably pick two other kids and have a look at them. I’ve been impressed with Ben’s development with the top squad and he’s got speed.
“It’s a good opportunity for us to see if the youngsters can do a job for us next season and a chance for the players to impress as well.
“It’s obviously a tough game. Hull have only lost once at home all season so they’re pretty good.
“It’s the last game so we want to go there and put up a performance that’s credible. It’s important to put up a good performance for the fans.
“There won’t be any speeches about trying to avoid finishing bottom, it will be about trying to keep working to the last day to the best of our ability.
“We can’t control what the other teams do, we just have to control ourselves and if we play well then it will take care of itself where we finish.
“No-one wants to finish bottom, but I don’t think that’s the best I can get out of the team talking about it.”
The Hull clash brings the intriguing prospect of Chase playing against the club that is desperate to sign him while Hull have ex-Cas players Joe Westerman, Martin Aspinwall, Liam Watts and Andy Lynch in their side who will all be keen to make a mark. Ryan McGoldrick, who joined from the Tigers in July, is more unlikely to play, however, after dislocating his shoulder in his side’s big win at Bradford last weekend.
Millward was pleased with Chase’s performance against Catalan and also happy to see Daryl Clark make a successful return from a long term injury.;
He said: “Rangi Chase has been out a long time. He hasn’t played since Warrington because of a knee injury, he missed quite a few games from the internal suspension and he also had the rugby league suspension. So for the period of time he has been out and the lack of games he’s had I thought he was pretty good.
“He has the ability to set up tries and he did against Catalan.
“It was a tough ask for Daryl Clark on his return. Because of what happened to Jamie Ellis we had to throw him on so early and play him long minutes, but I thought he went well.
“I think it’s really good that he’s been picked for the England Knights squad. It’s well deserved and he’s obviously happy.
“He’s a major player for us next season. We’ve missed him so much because of his speed.”
Castleford suffered their sixth successive defeat when they lost 46-26 to Catalan last Sunday and Millward reckoned the game was similar to many this season.
He added: “I was disappointed that after short minutes Jamie Ellis dislocated his shoulder and Steve Nash got a smashed up forehead and concussion and we were down to 15 players.That had a big effect on our chances.
“But it was a pretty consistent performance to what we’ve done this season. For some periods we looked good in attack and next thing we just drop an easy ball emphasising our skill levels aren’t where they should be. We can defend well at times then all of a sudden an individual will miss a one-on-one tackle which creates a try.
“If you cut up pieces of our good play there’s plenty of it, but if you cut up some inconsistent play there’s plenty of that.
“But everyone tried very hard which was pleasing. If you look at the wash up of the game there were two tries from intercepts and two tries from kicks. They converted all that and that was the 24 points in the game.
“We were trying some things in attack which I was looked at for the future and we got 26 points out of it so there were some positives there. Some of the things worked and some didn’t and it gave us a chance to look at that.
“We played Rangi at full-back and he did a good job there. It might be a position for him. He was quite clinical with the ball and created some doubt and will really benefit from the outing.
“Defensively we did some good stuff then we were all at sea. When I took the job we were averaging conceding 32 points a game and that hasn’t improved so we’ve got to obviously assess a few things.
“We’ve got to assess our personnel, assess the way we deliver things and assess the structure we want. With regard to personnel if you look at it we’ve bought quite a few people who defend on an edge and there’s some reasoning behind that. We’ve bought four outside backs, a back rower and a half-back.
“We’ve got defend better for longer periods and the club’s had a couple of years now of not being able to do that. It’s one of my responsibilities next year to get that right.”