Castleford players begin preparations for next season

Jamie Ellis, back on familiar ground.
Jamie Ellis, back on familiar ground.

A month on from their Grand Final disappointment the majority of Castleford Tigers players reported back for pre-season training this week.

A cold morning greeted the players as they went through their health checks and began the long process to gaining maximum fitness in time for the start of the 2018 Super League season next February.

New boys Joe Wardle, Mitch Clark and James Green met their new team-mates for the first time while returning half-back Jamie Ellis was back to familiar territory.

At least one more new signing is expected before the start of the season with the Tigers looking at full-back options with Zak Hardaker likely to be suspended for a lengthy spell.

They have been linked with Widnes’ Australian full-back Rhys Hanbury, who would certainly fit the bill as an experienced player in the mould of Luke Dorn.

But a move will be complicated as he is under contract with the Vikings for another two years and at 32 years old could prove an expensive option unless Widnes are prepared to let him go as a free transfer. He has played 146 games for the Cheshire club, scoring 67 tries, but struggled with injury last year when only able to make 14 appearances.

Cas, meanwhile, continue to be linked with a move for Leeds Rhinos half-back Cory Aston with the former Sheffield player touted to be coming in as a possible replacement for England Youth star Callum McLelland who is wanting first team opportunities next year and will find it difficult at the Jungle with Luke Gale, Ben Roberts and Jamie Ellis ahead of him.

Aston, 22, is contracted for another year with the Rhinos, but has not been given a squad number and spent time out on loan at Featherstone Rovers and Bradford Bulls last season.