Written by Callum Walker
With the world in lockdown, sporting fans have been eager to try and get their fix through old footage and any little bits of news that has emerged from their respective clubs. For the Rugby League fraternity, news has tended to focus on the damaging effects that the pandemic is currently having on the sport. However, Castleford fans do have something to shout about with the signing of star fullback Niall Evalds from the Salford Red Devils.
It was a revelation that shocked both Castleford and Salford fans as new signings are not exactly expected in such trying times. But, the Tigers pounced upon the fact that Evalds is out of contract at the end of the year as they make the Halifax-born fullback their first recruit for 2021.
It is only an initial one-year contract which may surprise a few people as, aged only 26, Evalds still has a huge career left in the game. 12 months is, of course, an incentive to play at the top of his game to earn a longer deal. And, if his form at Salford in recent years is anything to go by, then he is likely to be a major hit at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle.
Having come through the Salford academy setup, Evalds first operated as a winger before finding his feet at fullback and he has not looked back since. 101 tries in 146 appearances over a period of six seasons makes him a potent attacking threat, and, with a defensive game that has come on leaps and bounds since moving to the number one position, Evalds is certainly a signing for Castleford fans to get excited about.
With the 26-year-old likely to take Jordan Rankin’s shirt at the Tigers, the Australian is said to be heading home at the end of the season. That is a shame for the versatile back who has improved massively since joining the West Yorkshire club back in January 2019. But, with Evalds having two years on Rankin and the latter also taking up an overseas quota spot, the Salford man is most definitely a better bet.
— Sky Sports Rugby League (@SkySportsRL) May 12, 2020
A Grand Final appearance in 2019 will have been great experience for a player that had not appeared in a major final for his side before that. And, with the Tigers aiming to build for success, that will stand Evalds and Castleford in good stead going forward.
This latest bit of news is further evidence that head coach Daryl Powell is building a very exciting team. With Danny Richardson and Jake Trueman in the halves, Paul McShane at hooker and now Niall Evalds at fullback for next year, such an English quartet is relatively unheard of at the highest level. And, it’s one that will be at the forefront of Castleford’s attempts at silverware.