Castleford Tigers have tonight announced the departure of veteran prop Suaia Matagi, following on from the confirmation of Greg Eden’s exit, with Director of Rugby Operations Danny Wilson putting those decisions down to wanting to lower the age of the squad.
Love Rugby League yesterday reported the news that 32-year-old Eden was close to penning a deal with promotion hopefuls Featherstone Rovers with the Tigers wanting to revamp their squad.
His exit was confirmed by the club earlier on today, and this evening they have announced 35-year-old Matagi will be following him through the exit door following Friday night’s game at Headingley against Leeds Rhinos.
Cas have been embroiled in a relegation battle for much of this year, with their safety only officially cemented last week thanks to Wakefield Trinity’s golden point extra time defeat at Leigh Leopards. Trying to avoid a repeat of the basement battle in 2024, their plan to put a younger pack together is now clear.
Castleford Tigers seeking younger pack in 2024 as Eden and Matagi depart
There’s been no confirmation as yet who will be in charge at the Jungle next year. Former player Danny Ward was brought back to the club as their third permanent coach of the season last month, and has guided them to safety with victories against Wakefield and Hull FC.
He’s remained tight-lipped when asked about his future, promising all will be revealed once the season is over, which is likely why the comment in the statement which confirmed Matagi’s departure on the club website came from Wilson.
The Director of Rugby Operations said: “There’s two things that stand out with Sui, aside from his rugby performance and that’s as a person. He’s an unbelievable person.
“We love having him around the place, and he really looks after the youngsters as a person and also as a professional. He does everything right to give the best account of himself.
“Unfortunately now for us, it’s the time to move on with the direction of the squad. We want to bring that age profile down. Sui has still got a lot to offer in his next venture and we will certainly take some of the qualities that he has had and offered this group for the next players coming in.”
Suaia Matagi reflects on time with the Tigers
Auckland-born forward Matagi leaves the Jungle, and brings an end to a three-year stint with Cas. The first of those, in 2021, came on loan from Huddersfield Giants with the move made permanent ahead of the following campaign.
The former Samoa and New Zealand international currently sits on 49 appearances for the Tigers, with 14 of those having come to date this term. He also played a game on loan in the Championship with Halifax Panthers in February, with 100 club appearances to his name now in the British game.
Matagi said: “I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. Since the day that I got here I felt very welcome and I felt at home. The Cas fans are the best fans to play in front of as well.
“They’ve given me an experience that I can’t forget. Training with the lads as well, it’s been a whole enjoyable experience. I know the way this season went wasn’t the best, but there’s some positives to take from it going forwards for next season.”