CASTLEFORD Tigers loose-forward Adam Milner knows he must decide “sooner rather than later” whether to continue with the side he has spent his entire career with or become the latest Englishman to head to the NRL.
Milner chalked up his 200th appearance for the West Yorkshire club during Friday’s impressive 42-14 win at Hull KR and has honed a reputation in recent years as one of Super League’s most consistent forwards.
His sheer industry, not least his defensive appetite, and ability to offer a running game from the No 13 role, have alerted suitors, including from Down Under.
Milner, who came through Tigers’ academy system after joining from Wakefield side Stanley Rangers, is out of contract at the end of this season.
Clearly Castleford, whom he helped reach a maiden Grand Final last term and clinch a first League Leaders’ Shield, want him to stay and an offer is on the table.
However, as he enters his peak years, an opportunity to test his skills against some of the world’s best in the NRL is also an enticing option.
There’s both: talks with Cas and in the NRL. It (NRL) is a (serious) option and we’ll just see what happens with that.Castleford Tigers’ Adam Milner.
“There are talks, yes, and I’ll know sooner rather than later about what I’m doing,” said Milner when asked about his contract situation.
“There’s both: talks with Cas and in the NRL. It (NRL) is a (serious) option and we’ll just see what happens with that.
“I can’t really comment on it just yet but I need to just keep playing well and then get it sorted.”
Milner had been on the verge of the England squad last term and will know the likes of fellow Yorkshiremen Elliott Whitehead and Josh Hodgson have thrived in the NRL, strengthening their international places, since joining the Burgess brothers and James Graham there.
Similarly, though, plenty of English players have ventured there and not settled, for one reason or another, such as Joe Wardle, the former Huddersfield Giants back-row, who joined Castleford this term after just one season with Newcastle Knights.
For now, Milner, who was England Academy captain after starting his career at hooker, is simply concentrating on helping Castleford regain some consistency.
They responded to an embarrassing home defeat to St Helens with that convincing display at Hull KR but now want more.
“We were soft in that Saints game and talked about it afterwards that we needed a good response like what we saw at Rovers,” added Milner, after his side swiftly bullied their hosts and raced into a 22-0 lead after just 18 minutes.
“We were far from soft on Friday and really had that steel about us again. We went after Hull KR; we conceded a few soft ones towards the back end but it was a good overall performance from the boys.
“The way we defended was outstanding; as a player who leads that defensive role in the middle, it was pleasing for me.”
Castleford face an intriguing game at Warrington Wolves this Friday knowing another victory will see them draw level in third place with their hosts, who utterly outplayed Wigan Warriors on the way to a 23-0 success in Saturday’s Challenge Cup quarter-final.
“We played them earlier this season at home but that was more of a swimming contest,” recalled Milner, about the 18-6 Easter Monday defeat that looked like being called off after torrential rain.
“This week we’ll probably have a game of rugby. It’ll be good to face a top-four team and we know we have to deliver a defensive performance like we did at KR and look for some consistency.
“We’ve been a bit hit-and-miss this year so we’re looking to keep up the good work now started last Friday.”
Milner’s durability is another factor in why he is attracting interest from Australia – he rarely misses a game.
On his 200th appearance, he said: “I remember my first one well enough – Huddersfield at home. I played four in my first year and I’ve been fortunate to be injury-free for the other seasons.
“I’ve never really had a bad one, touch wood. I’m carrying a few niggles here and there but I’m all right. I like to get stuck in like everyone knows and it’s pleasing to reach 200.
“Paul McShane reached 200 Super League games on Friday, too, and Greg Eden got to 100 Super League matches as well so big raps to those two. It’s a great achievement and, hopefully, there’s plenty more to come.”
Meanwhile, 18-year-old centre Robbie Storey, who only joined from City of Hull Academy last July, has earned a two-year full-time contract and will now join Castleford’s first-team squad.
Huddersfield Giants’ Danny Brough – just recently back from a three-game ban for dissent – has been given a two-match penalty notice for dangerous contact in their Challenge Cup loss to Catalans Dragons.
Similarly, Leeds Rhinos’ Anthony Mullally has received a one-game suspension for raising his knee in the tackle – in his comeback match after a two-game ban for the same offence.