Jacques O’Neill: Love Island star hoping to be back in rugby league “soon”

Drew Darbyshire
Jacques O'Neill News Images

Photo: James Heaton/News Images

Former Castleford hooker turned hit reality TV star Jacques O’Neill says he misses rugby league and hopes to be back on a rugby pitch very soon.

The 23-year-old was granted a release from his contract with Super League side Castleford last June so he could take up an opportunity to go on hit reality TV show Love Island.

O’Neill has been very busy with his own commitments since leaving the villa. He has gained more than 1.3million on Instagram on the back of the show.

But the Barrow-born hooker admitted he missed playing rugby league when appearing on The Rugby League Verdict on Sky Sports News on Wednesday afternoon.

When asked by reporter Jenna Brooks when will he be back on a rugby pitch, O’Neill replied: “I’m hoping soon, honestly.

“I’m hoping sooner than I thought because I miss it, I’m going to be honest. When you love something as a kid, it doesn’t go away. I want to be back.”

Castleford have the first option to re-sign O’Neill should he wish to return to playing professional rugby league.

O’Neill made 29 appearances for the Tigers after making his first team debut in 2019. He also enjoyed loan spells in the Championship with Leigh and Halifax.

He was the first professional rugby league player to enter the Love Island villa last year. There is a second former rugby league player on this year’s series of Love Island in the shape of Kai Fagan, who used to play for Featherstone’s reserves.

Fagan won international honours with England Universities in rugby league. He has also represented Jamaica in Rugby 7s.

Jacques O’Neill makes his Super League predictions

O’Neill, who played his junior rugby for Askam, has backed his former club Castleford to make the play-offs this year – but he doesn’t see anyone stopping reigning champions St Helens.

He told Sky Sports News: “For Castleford this year, they’ve signed really well.

“Last year they had a few injuries in the halves. I feel like this year Gareth Widdop with Jacob Miller, I think they’ll go really well. Macca (Paul McShane) will able to just do his job instead of trying to run the team. They’ve got Westy (Joe Westerman) at 13 who will run the team this year. I think if they are not looking at top four, top five, I think they should be.

“I don’t think anyone has signed good enough to beat Saints again. I’m not sure, but I’m going to tip St Helens again.”

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