Castleford Tigers Super League

Gale suffers possible season-ending injury

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After an injury hit 2018, England half-back Luke Gale will have been keen to have a big Super League season this year where he would have been keen to help his Castleford teammates to silverware after their strong recent seasons.

However, after suffering a serious achilles injury in training, the 30-year-old may well be set for another lengthy spell on the sidelines. Initial reports suggest that it could rule him out for the entire season but there is yet to be formal confirmation of the length of his absence. In a statement released on the Tigers’ official website, it was revealed that Gale is set to see a specialist this week for assessment but the club’s Director of Rugby admitted that it didn’t look great for the 2017 Super League Man of Steel.

“Luke has suffered a suspected ruptured achilles tendon during training over the weekend. He will be seeing a specialist to assess the seriousness of the injury but unfortunately the prognosis doesn’t look great,” he explained, adding praise for how the Cas’ talisman has reacted to off-season knee surgery in preparation for 2019. “This is likely to be another significant setback for him but having known Luke for many years I know that he is an extremely strong character and a resilient member of our squad who will be doing everything he can to overcome this latest hurdle and return fit and healthy to the Tigers fold in the future,” he continued.

While not confirmed, it may be that the club can remove his salary from the club’s cap for the season which would obviously allow Daryl Powell and Wells to recruit a replacement for Gale. That, however, may not ring true – further information will no doubt emerge in the coming days and weeks.


Third test set for a bumper crowd

After sealing the series victory over New Zealand by winning the first two tests in Hull and Liverpool, many would have been forgiven for thinking that the attendance for this Sunday’s final encounter between England and the Kiwis at Elland Road would suffer due to nothing riding on the game – but no.

Instead, the official England Rugby League twitter feed confirmed that further tickets have been put on sale in the East Stand Upper section of the Leeds United stadium, a move which could see the third test draw a record attendance. Last weekend’s 20-14 victory over the Kiwis drew a crowd of 26,234 to Anfield, the second best number for a test outside of London against New Zealand since 1951. Indeed, with the highest figure being 27,884 in 1998 in Bolton, this Sunday’s clash at Elland Road has already sold enough advance tickets to confirm that the match will replace that date in Bolton as the best attended international against the Kiwis outside of the capital.

This comes at a time when international rugby league is at something of a crossroads and, in the opinion of RFL CEO Ralph Rimmer, this test series has showed that there is serious interest in the game at this level. “The first two Tests have been a reminder of the value and appeal of international rugby league,” he told the media following the announcement of the opening of the East Stand Upper. “Millions of people have seen our England team earn two wins against the Kiwis and now we’re delighted that more people want to see the third Test in the flesh,” he added.

international St Helens Super League

On top of the world: Makinson wins Golden Boot

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St Helens’ winger Tommy Makinson has beaten competition from Dallin Watene-Zelezniak, James Tedesco and England teammate Elliott Whitehead to win the rugby league Golden Boot award, cementing his place as one of the best try scorers in the game.

Approaching two hundred career matches for the Saints, 27-year-old Makinson scored eleven tries in 2018 and, in June, made his England debut in Denver, crossing for a try as Wayne Bennett’s team beat New Zealand. His international head coach admitted that he wasn’t aware of Makinson’s talents until this season and, when Ryan Hall was ruled out of the post-season test series with injury, he was given the chance to stake his claim for the vacant left wing berth – an opportunity he has taken with both hands.

After being a key part of the England team who edged the first test against New Zealand in Hull but, in the second at Anfield, he truly stole the show with a hat-trick. Three superb finishes sealed a series victory for Bennett’s men with a game to spare and, with just three international appearances to his name, Makinson seems to have cemented himself on the global scene of rugby league. “If you look at the three games he’s had for England, he’s been outstanding, absolutely outstanding,” Bennett explained.

His performances for St Helens throughout 2018 – both in defence and attack – helped Justin Holbrook’s team win the League Leaders’ Shield and reach the Challenge Cup semi finals.

In winning the award, Makinson has become just the fifth English winner of the prestigious Golden Boot award, following Kevin Sinfield (2012), Andy Farrell (2004), Garry Schofield (1990) and Ellery Hanley (1988) in winning the accolade.


international NRL

GUILTY! Burgess hit with four-match ban

George Burgess has been suspended for four matches and hit with a £500 fine after being found guilty of eye gouging against an opponent in England’s 20-14 victory over New Zealand at Anfield last weekend.

The South Sydney Rabbitohs forward was hit with a Grade D charge of ‘behaviour contrary to the true spirit of the game’ which, in turn, has ruled him out of England’s final test of the year in Leeds and the Yorkshireman will also miss the first three games of the Rabbitohs’ NRL campaign next season.

The incident occured in the second half of the Anfield test match with the Kiwis’ captain Dallin Watene-Zelezniak being on the receiving end of Burgess’ indiscipline and, while the Penrith Panthers back brushed off questions surrounding the incident post-match, the international disciplinary panel saw fit to ban the front rower.