After a disappointing end to 2017, Castleford Tigers are readying themselves for an assault on Super League where they will be hoping to go one better than their Grand Final defeat last time out. Indeed, one reason why many feel that the Wheldon Road club fell to defeat in the season’s showpiece was the late withdrawal of star full back Zak Hardaker following a drug related suspension and it has left a hole to be filled at full back for the upcoming campaign as he is likely to get a ban.
Indeed, there has been a variety of names speculated, one of whom is Samoa’s Ben Roberts. After a stint with his national team at the RLWC where he played in the halves, Roberts is set to return to Yorkshire and 2017 Coach of the Year Daryl Powell has made it clear that he is the man who will step into Hardaker’s full back spot and he feels that Roberts will be dangerous despite his positional move, saying that “Benny Roberts will play full-back for us next year and, for me, he is a natural full-back.” Indeed, it is the former Melbourne Storm star’s running game which is regarded as his most threatening weapon on the pitch and Powell has suggested that will ensure his full time switch to the position is successful, saying that “so much came off the back of that for us last season. He was great for us. At full-back, though, you can use his running game even more and I think he’ll be a real threat from there.” It is important to realise that Roberts has, on occasion, filled the full back role in the past so he is no novice to the role and, with the signing of Jamie Ellis set to see England’s Luke Gale have a new partner in the halves in 2018.
While Castleford haven’t recruited big names to their squad for next season, the likes of second rower Joe Wardle, Papua New Guinean winger Garry Lo as well as Ellis have no doubt added to the depth available to Powell as he aims to mastermind a successful 2018 campaign – will Roberts’ positional switch give the Tigers’ the boost they need?