Castleford Tigers backed to deal with back row shortage

Jordan Rankin, back to add some competition for places at Castleford Tigers.
Jordan Rankin, back to add some competition for places at Castleford Tigers.

Castleford Tigers look to be short of back row forwards following Jesse Sene-Lefao’s return home on compassionate leave, but head coach Daryl Powell is confident he has cover for Sunday’s Dacia Magic Weekend game against St Helens

Sene-Lefao has returned to Australia with his family and no timeframe has been put on his return.

His absence adds to the continued loss through injury of Oliver Holmes, Alex Foster and Junior Moors, but the Tigers have been used to finding a way round selection difficulties this year and Powell still has options to add to Mike McMeeken who has been in top form in his back row position.

He explained: “I’ve got to make a decision on who plays in Jesse’s position. Chris Clarkson is back in contention, but Grant Millington played there later on in the game against Leeds and he’s another option.

“I need to make a call as we get towards the back end of the week.

“It’s a real tough one to lose Jesse. But first and foremost thoughts are with Jesse and his family and I hope everything’s okay.

“We wish Jesse and his family all the best in this tough situation for them and look forward to welcoming him back in due course.

“For the team it’s pretty tough. We’ve lost players pretty consistently to injury and then this is a little bit different. But these things happen in life.”

Elsewhere in the squad the Tigers have not picked up any more major injuries so are likely to be able to field 16 of the 17 players that got the job done in the win at Leeds last week.

Powell said: “We should be all right injury-wise from the Leeds game.

“There’s a couple of bits and pieces. Nathan Massey’s got a little bit of a hip issue, but hopefully he’ll be okay.

“Apart from that and Jesse Sene-Lefao having to go home we are starting to get a few players back and hopefully we can get more of a settled side.”

Castleford benefited from fit-again senior players playing their part at Headingley with Powell pleased with how they went and how they came through the match.

He added: “We’ve got some players who have just come back from injuries and getting some game time under their belt is always helpful.

“Jordan Rankin came back in at Leeds and added some competition for places. Cory Aston’s been in there and done a good job, but there’s some pressure on him to hold his place down, so that’s good.

“Some of our quality players getting more game time after coming back from injuries was pleasing.

“We needed the win pretty badly and it was good for us.”