Written by Callum Walker
Castleford gave Derrell Olpherts a last chance of Super League glory, and he’s taking the opportunity with both hands.
The name Derrell Olpherts meant little to Castleford fans prior to his signing in July 2019. In fact, the former Salford Red Devil wasn’t exactly hailed as the next best thing by fans of ex-clubs. But, wind the clock forward to seven games into the new season and Olpherts is now one of the first names on the teamsheet for the Tigers.
With six tries in seven games, the winger is making a name for himself as a tremendously hard-working and effective recruit. With pace to burn – as evidenced by his length-of-the-field effort against Catalans – and an ability to finish tries off as well as anyone in the game, Olpherts is making a number of critics eat their own words.
At 28 years of age, Olpherts isn’t exactly a spring chicken. And, with a CV that includes spells at Dewsbury, Hemel, Newcastle and most recently Salford, it wasn’t the kind of top-flight signing that would put bums on seats.
After an impressive pre-season, however, Wakefield-born Olpherts was given the number 2 shirt by head coach Daryl Powell. Having fit in seamlessly and often praised for his high work ethic in training, this was clearly a sign of things to come.
✌ Derrell loves a double at The Jungle!
How on earth did @DerrellOlphert1 get that second try down?!
— Castleford Tigers (@CTRLFC) March 16, 2020
It’s not just his try-scoring exploits that have got Castleford fans talking though. Olpherts’ desire to gain as many metres as possible coming out of defence has been fully appreciated by the Castleford faithful. His 757 metres gained so far is the sixth-highest in the competition and the most of any Tigers player.
The relationship between the winger and his centre partner Peter Mata’utia has been a formidable one with the Tigers regularly attacking down this right-hand side, particularly with playmaker Danny Richardson occupying the right side too. Olpherts has essentially become a brilliantly important cog in the Castleford wheel.
Did any Castleford fan really foresee the impact Olpherts has had on the side? Probably not, but they are certainly reaping the rewards of yet another gem unearthed by Powell and his coaching staff. Sky Sports pundit Phil Clarke hailed the former Salford man as “the signing of the season,” and, so far, he is living up to that incredible praise.