New signing helps Castleford bring down average age of squad

James Gordon
Lee Radford Castleford Tigers SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix

Castleford have signed former Hull FC loose forward Ilikaya Mafi, as coach Lee Radford continues to freshen up his squad.

Mafi, 19, turned out for Hull’s academy and reserve sides last season having previously played community rugby league with West Hull.

He said: “I was playing rugby union from the age of 11 and then when I moved to Hull, I joined West Hull rugby league and since then I’ve been hooked.

“I was playing union in Oxford for a local team and then I played league on and off in Essex after moving there, but when I moved to Hull that was when I committed to playing league.

“It was good at Hull working with Rob Nickolay and Danny Wilson who came to Cas as well. Michael Shenton helped me a lot as well with developing my game in both offense and defence. I’m excited to be getting around a professional environment and learning from all of the players here.”

Younger squad

Ilikaya Mafi is the latest youthful addition to Radford’s squad, joining Jacob Hookem and Bailey Dawson, who have been training with the first team since the start of pre-season.

Coach Radford added: “He’s a big athletic lad and he’ll benefit from being with us full time.

“I made some comments earlier in the year that we need to make the squad’s average age a little bit younger, so Ilikaya and the other lads coming on board will allow us to do that.”

Two other relative youngsters to have made the move to the Jungle this off-season are Leeds duo Muizz Mustapha and Jack Broadbent.

Nigeria-born Mustapha, now 22, played 11 times for Hull KR in 2021 as they reached the Super League play-off semi-finals, while Broadbent already has England Knights caps under his belt.

Other new signings for 2023 include half-back pair Jacob Miller and Gareth Widdop, signed from Wakefield and Warrington respectively, and Tonga international forward Albert Vete from Hull KR.

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