Castleford Tigers youngster Jacques O’Neill learning his trade while playing waiting game

Jacques O'Neill. Picture: Matthew Merrick
Jacques O'Neill. Picture: Matthew Merrick

Young hooker Jacques O’Neill reckons Castleford Tigers is a good school.

The 20-year-old Cumbrian was recalled to the Tigers’ 17-man playing squad when they won at Wakefield Trinity last week.

He made his senior debut earlier this year, but has had to bide his time since the home victory against the same opposition at Easter.

Training rather than playing is never ideal, particularly for an ambitious newcomer, but O’Neill has experienced duo Paul McShane and Adam Milner to learn from and insists that will make him a better player in the long run.

“They are the ones who look after me at training,” O’Neill confirmed of his two team-mates and rivals for a starting spot.

“When I am being daft they’ll tell me to calm down – when I’m doing stupid things they’ll tell me.

“They always grab me to do extras, they are always pushing me and I am always chasing them because I am behind them.”

With the quality of players ahead of him in Tigers’ pecking order, O’Neill knows he is playing a “waiting game”.

He stressed: “You want to play every week and you want to be in that team so when you get your opportunity you have to be good.

“Sometimes you can’t be too good because of match fitness and things like that.

“It is difficult for Daryl (Powell, Tigers’ coach) to send me on dual-registration or loan, but the reserves come in next year and it’ll be great to get game time in there and push on.”

Of last week’s game against Trinity, O’Neill said: “It was great to get out there.

“My last game was Wakey at home, 13 weeks ago.

“I had a game for Halifax two weeks ago, but it was a long time coming and I really enjoyed it.

“It was a derby as well and that made it better.”

O’Neill admitted it was not easy getting up to the speed of the game, particularly an intense derby with much at stake for both teams.

“I’ve only played six games in Super League so I am still getting used to it,” he conceded.

“It’s just that match fitness, as soon as I get that I will be all right I think.”