It has been confirmed in recent weeks that Castleford Tigers’ experienced centre Jake Webster will be departing the club for Bradford Bulls for 2019, leaving Daryl Powell’s men without one of his most consistent performers. Indeed, the former New Zealand international has made over a hundred appearances for the Wheldon Road club and boasts an impressive try scoring record. However, his influence stretches further and his sheer size and power means that any opponent will know they have been in a contest when they have faced the huge centre.
Now, though, Powell and Co. will be looking at options for 2019 and beyond. The reigning Super League Coach of the Year has revealed recently that, after extending and improving the deals of many of the Tigers’ key players, the money may not be there to bring in an a-list replacement for the 34-year-old veteran. However, a suitable replacement – albeit of a different style – may already be in the Cas ranks in the shape of Greg Minikin.
Having missed recent weeks, the former York City Knights star has returned to the fold in recent weeks and made the interchange bench for Cas’ victory over Huddersfield before starting this week’s derby against Wakefield. Taking a wing berth from James Clare for the visit of Trinity, Minikin was one of Castleford’s stars in 2017 as he scored twenty-two tries in all competitions from the right edge. Prior to moving to the Tigers for 2016, though, the 23-year-old starred in the centres for York City Knights in the third tier and it is there where he long term future may be.
Obviously a capable finisher, Minikin was one of the Tigers’ most prominent metre-makers in 2017 and boasted the second-highest average gain among Cas players, second only to Tom Holmes who only made a handful of appearances for the club. If he is to replace Webster in the centres, it would likely see a slight difference in the Tigers’ approach simply because the pair are so different physically. Webster’s size and power have been invaluable to Castleford throughout his time in West Yorkshire and will undoubtedly be missed. Nevertheless, that isn’t to suggest that Minikin wouldn’t get through plenty of work in the centres. He is a player who certainly doesn’t shirt a tackle and, given the prime job of the threequarters is to score and provide tries, he is certainly a viable candidate for the soon-to-be-vacant number three jersey.
Will Powell opt for the knaresborough born flyer? Only time will tell.