Lee Radford confirms Joe Westerman selection decision as Castleford boss discusses squad fitness

Josh McAllister
Daniel Smith and Joe Westerman Lee Radford Castleford Tigers SWpix

Photo: Allan McKenzie / SWpix

Castleford head coach Lee Radford has confirmed his selection decision for loose forward Joe Westerman ahead of their opening fixture against Hull. 

Westerman, 33, has been under the spotlight during the week of Super League’s opening round of fixtures following a video shared on social media.

The Tigers conducted an internal investigation on the incident, with the player issuing an official apology. He was also handed a “substantial” fine as well as required to undertake community service by the club. 

Despite the major disruption, head coach Radford confirmed that his experienced forward will be available for selection for Sunday’s tie.

“Joe Westerman is available, definitely,” Radford said during his pre-match press conference on Thursday.

“I think he’ll be up for playing, definitely.”

Asked about how the player has handled the controversial week mentally, Radford explained:  “He’s alright. He’s been himself. Monday knocked us about a little. But since then he has trained well and put his best foot forward for selection.

“He’s one of a number of players who have had a good pre-season and I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do as a collective in 2023.”

Castleford fitness update

Radford confirmed that half-back Jacob Miller is available. He could make his official Castleford debut, having missed out on the club’s pre-season fixtures.

The 30-year-old half-back made the move to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle during the off-season from Wakefield on a three-year deal.

“Jacob Miller is available for selection,” Radford confirmed on Thursday.

“Those missing will be Kieran Hudson, who is out for the season, and Danny Richardson and Callum McLelland. In terms of availability, I’m really pleased at where we’re at in round one.”

Castleford suffered a rocky campaign in 2022 in terms of injuries. Star players Niall Evalds, Jordan Turner and Danny Richardson all suffered long-term blows, with the latter confirming himself that he is unlikely to feature in 2023.

But with a near-full strength squad heading into the season, Radford is hoping to see his key men on the field more often than not in 2023.

“I hope we get to see it an awful lot this year,” Radford said on his starting spine that includes ex-England international Gareth Widdop.

“Last year, Niall went down really early. Gaz O’Brien broke his back round one, and from there it just seemed to chop and change each week.

“I said it a couple of weeks ago, the more games they can string together, the better we’re going to be.

“There’s some fantastic footballers in there. I just hope they can get that chemistry right and maintain that chemistry each week.

“It has such an impact on your season when your important players aren’t available for selection.”

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