Donlan steps up in hard week for Cas

Paul Jackson
Paul Jackson
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IT is one prop in and one out for Castleford Tigers with Australian Grant Millington close to full fitness, but the experienced Paul Jackson ruled out for another two months.

Millington has stepped up his training in a bid to be ready to make his Cas debut and is under consideration for Sunday’s Stobart Super League game against Wigan Warriors at the Probiz Coliseum.

The big Aussie arrived in England with a shoulder injury after undergoing reconstruction surgery, but is well on the mend and it is now a question of timing of when to drop him in.

The decision on whether to include Millington in this weekend’s squad is likely to come down to assistant coach Stuart Donlan, who has been put in temporary charge with head coach Ian Millward on compassionate leave following the sudden death of his teenage son, Robbie.

Donlan is overseeing training this week with the help of the Tigers’ senior players, but will be unable to call on his most senior prop forward, Jackson, who underwent a second operation on his injured hand on Monday.

The 33-year-old needed a bone graft after failing to recover from his original operation at the end of last year and he is now expected to be out for up to ten weeks.

With Craig Huby also not expected to figure for at least another six weeks the Tigers’ front row resources are being stretched, but the coaching staff have been pleased with the way Academy product Nathan Massey has stepped up and Steve Nash has settled in since his move from Championship club Leigh.

Steve Snitch can also cover at prop and his return from a shoulder injury is timely to widen options. The Hull-born forward made his first Super League appearance of the season when substitute at Catalan last Saturday and came through okay.

It has been a difficult week for everyone at the club after getting news of Robbie Millward’s shock death while on their way home from the game in France on Sunday.

But the Wigan game goes ahead and there will be a minute of applause to honour Robbie before the match, ironically against one of the clubs previously coached by Ian Millward.

This will provide an opportunity for the club and supporters to show their support and respect for the head coach and his family during this time of great sadness.

Speaking on Monday, on behalf of the family, Ian thanked everybody for their kind messages of support, especially the Rugby League family from both the UK and Australia.

The minute of applause and cheering will take place moments before kick-off at 3.30pm.

Tigers chief executive Richard Wright said: “We are all thinking about Ian and Robbie’s friends and family at this difficult time.

“We care for Ian and all our thoughts are with him.

“Ian has obviously been given time to himself and the senior players have put their hands up to assist with the coaching responsibility this week.”