Castleford are tight-lipped on out-of-contract pack pair

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CASTLEFORD Tigers declined to comment this week on the future of forwards Martin Aspinwall (pictured) and Nick Fozzard at the club.

Both were signed on one-year deals for 2011, but have not yet announced their intentions for next year.

Aspinwall, 29, missed part of the season after being jailed for dangerous driving, but was a regular in the second row when available for Terry Matterson’s team and the outgoing coach said that he had done well enough to earn another contract.

Experienced prop Fozzard, 34, made a flying start to his Castleford career with some powerful performances in the early part of the season, but the latter half was dogged by injuries that saw him only play in two of the last ten games.

Tigers youngsters Clark Thompson and Ben Blackmore are the latest players to commit themselves to the club after signing one-year contract extensions.

Ex-Normanton Knights prop forward Thompson, 19, and speedy winger Blackmore, 18, who started with Fryston Warriors, have been regulars in the under 20s side this year and played a major part in the team reaching the play-offs.

Both featured in last weekend’s 38-24 win over Hull FC in the knockout round of the play-offs and are set to face Warrington in the semi-final this Saturday at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.

Head of youth development Steve Gill said: “We are looking forward to working with both Clark and Ben in the 2012 season.

“Both players have the ability to play at a higher level and it is our responsibility to assist them in getting there.”

They joined promising forward Jack Smith in agreeing a new deal with the 18-year-old academy prop last week also putting pen to paper on a one-year contract extension. He has impressed while playing in both the club’s junior and senior academy grades this year after training with the first team pre-season.

He said: “I’m obviously very happy to have extended my contract with the club.

“Cas is my hometown club and I’ve always wanted to play for Cas. Playing first team is my goal and I’m working flat out to try and prove that I’m ready for the step up to Super League.”

Richard Tunningley, player performance manager, said: “Jack initially signed three years ago from Fryston Warriors and we have been really pleased with his commitment and dedication.

“We are pleased he has signed a 12-month extended contract. He is developing nicely; he’s still only 18 and has plenty more years in front of him to prepare for the step up to first grade, which we all believe he can achieve.”

Former academy player Joe Arundel, 20, was confirmed in the England Knights train-on squad on Tuesday.

The Knights will be playing matches against France and Samoa next month and Arundel – who missed only one first team game in the season just finished – has been rewarded for his consistency with the call-up to a squad that also includes former team-mate Joe Westerman and another ex-Cas player Liam Watts.