Castleford Tigers have signed Luis Johnson on a one-year deal for 2024 following his departure from fellow Super League outfit Hull KR.
Johnson – who began his career in the Tigers’ youth system before being bought by Warrington Wolves – has been training with the Jungle outfit throughout pre-season so far, one of nine departures from Hull KR at the end of the 2023 campaign.
The 24-year-old spent three campaigns at Craven Park, though was limited to just 33 appearances in total, hampered by injury issues and spending most of 2023 out of favour under Robins head coach Willie Peters.
Very much a utility, the Leeds-born ace actually appeared three times as a loanee for Cas earlier this year, featuring against Wakefield Trinity, Salford Red Devils and Catalans Dragons before being recalled by KR.
He now returns on a permanent basis for the upcoming season, thanks to the financial backing of new investor Martin Jepson, who has immediately put a seven-figure sum into the Tigers’ account.
Castleford Tigers make 11th signing ahead of 2024 in shape of utility Luis Johnson from fellow Super League club Hull KR
Warrington and KR have been Johnson’s only two permanent homes since leaving Castleford as a youngster, though he’s enjoyed a quartet of short stays elsewhere, including his month-long stint back at the Jungle this year.
Prior, he’d also appeared either as a loanee or on dual-registration for Rochdale Hornets, Dewsbury Rams and Widnes Vikings.
Speaking to the Tigers’ club website, the utility said: “I’m buzzing to be here. When I heard the chance of a trial with a possible deal at the end of it, I threw myself straight into it, and coming out with a year’s deal, I’m buzzing.
“I’ve spoken to Craig (Lingard, head coach) and Danny (McGuire, assistant) about how I’ve been getting on each week, and they seem to be happy with me, so I’m happy.
“When I came through the academy, I loved it, and being back last year the results weren’t the best, but I loved playing in in front of the Cas fans.
“It definitely helped being here last season, I’d gone about three months without a game when I came to Cas, so I was blowing a few cobwebs off, but a few weeks playing on the bounce allowed me to become more game-ready, which I will be next season.”
New man Johnson ‘fits the profile’ for Castleford boss Craig Lingard
The decouple of Nixon Putt (Central Queensland Capras), Elie El-Zakhem (North Sydney Bears), Sylvester Namo (North Queensland Cowboys), Josh Hodson, Samy Kibula (both Batley Bulldogs), Josh Simm (Wynnum Manly Seagulls), Sam Wood, Rowan Milnes (both Hull KR), Luke Hooley (Leeds Rhinos) and Innes Senior (Huddersfield Giants) had already been recruited.
And Cas boss Lingard, taking the reins for the first time in 2024, says that his latest addition ‘fits the profile’ of what they’re looking for perfectly, with back row the vision for where Johnson can slot in.
Lingard added: “He’s been good since he’s come in, we’ve spoken about bringing the age category down and he fits that with the attributes he’s brought since he’s been in, with his energy and enthusiasm, and he’s a strike on the edge as well.
“He can defend and the things that he’s done that we’ve asked him have been standout. We’ve told him he’s going to be one of four or five back-rowers, and if he wants to play, he has to stand out.
“You’ve got to make the coaching staff notice you and notice that you’re there so we don’t leave you out. He’s started to find his voice out on the field now which is good.
“He fits the profile of the players that we’ve got. They’re all in that same boat and they’re all looking to put their stamp on their career at the stage they are.
“We’ve got a lot of people now in their 20’s who haven’t cemented that place in Super League and we’ve got a lot of people trying to do that, it’s a real good opportunity.”