Castleford forward Olly Holmes has backed team-mate Jake Trueman to shine after the recent news of a potentially season-ending injury to Luke Gale.
Castleford confirmed that former Steve Prescott Man of Steel winner Gale has ruptured his Achilles and the half-back could therefore miss most – if not – all of the 2019 campaign.
In his absence, more responsibility is likely to fall on the shoulders of 19-year-old Trueman – the reigning Super League Young Player of the Year – and Holmes fully expects the youngster to cope with the added pressure.
“I think there probably is more pressure on Jake this season,” Holmes told loverugbyleague.com.
“But the thing with Jake is that he’s always calm and collected. He’s head-and-shoulders above everyone at his age. You don’t usually get such an old head on such shoulders for a 19-year-old.
“The pressure will be there of course. But, I don’t think that Jake will be thinking about that too much. He’ll just be concentrating on his game and improving that.
“If he can bring his best game, he’s more than capable of handling that pressure. Jake was fantastic for us last year. It’s his second full season with us, which will be harder for him. But, he just seems to take everything in his stride.
“I’m sure that there’ll be opportunities for other players as well, so it’s time for those lads to stand up.”
Speaking on Gale’s absence, Holmes admitted that it will be a blow for the side though insisted he’ll remain a strong influence off the field.
“It’s gutting for Luke,” added the England international. “I wasn’t at the field session when he picked up the injury, so when I got to the ground and heard about it, I was gutted for him.
“I’ve been in a similar situation when you’re coming back from an injury, there’s light at the end of the tunnel and then another injury comes along. It’s heart-breaking and it’ll be a test of his mental strength.
“Knowing Luke, he is a strong character and he’s always willing to break through the walls that are put in front of him. He’s going to be a massive loss for us as a former Man of Steel and England international. He’ll be missed, without a doubt.
“Luke will still be around all of the lads during the week. Once he’s had his operation and we’ve got back from our camp in Lanzarote, he’ll be back in training with us, although he’ll be in rehab. You do get isolated a little bit when you are in rehab as you’re not out there on the field or doing weights with the lads.
“You’re separated from the lads because you’ve obviously got different needs. But, that’s all part of the rehab process. Luke will still be around the group and it’ll still be the same old Galey.”