Where are they now? The Castleford Tigers side that beat St Helens in 2017 Super League play-off semi-final

Ben Olawumi
Luke Gale, Michael Shenton, Paul McShane

From left to right: Luke Gale, Michael Shenton & Paul McShane all feature in this 'Where are they now?' from Castleford Tigers' 2017 Super League play-off semi-final win against St Helens

One of Castleford Tigers’ most famous victories in recent years came against St Helens in the 2017 Super League play-off semi-final, reaching the Grand Final for the first time in their history.

The Fords had lifted the League Leaders’ Shield, finishing 10 points clear of nearest rivals Leeds Rhinos, and earned themselves a home semi-final as a result.

On what turned out to be a dramatic night, with 11,235 in attendance, the hosts would earn a 23-22 win in Golden Point extra time, having trailed as the final hooter went with a successful penalty conversion taking the tie beyond the 80-minute mark.

Regan Grace, Morgan Knowles, Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan & Mark Percival were Saints‘ try-scorers at The Jungle, with Percival crucially only managing to convert one of those five tries.

With the two sides meeting again this weekend, below, we look at where the Castleford side from the semi-final in 2017 are today…

TIGERS: Castleford Tigers director provides IMG score update, reveals stadium work

1. Zak Hardaker

Zak Hardaker
Zak Hardaker scores a try for Castleford Tigers during their 2017 Super League play-off semi-final triumph against St Helens

Scoring a try on the night, this would prove to be Hardaker’s 30th and final appearance for Castleford. Omitted from their Grand Final squad, it would emerge that he had failed a drugs test for cocaine earlier in September after a Super 8s game against Leeds. Banned for 14 months, he missed the entirety of the 2018 season before being signed by Wigan Warriors ahead of 2019.

The 2015 Man of Steel, now 32, has been with Leigh since the beginning of the 2023 season, lifting the Challenge Cup in his first year with the Leopards. Hardaker recently surpassed the milestone of 350 career appearances, and is expected to join Hull FC next year. If that move comes off, FC will become the sixth club he’s donned a shirt for in the British game.

2. Greg Minikin

Outside-back Minikin spent four seasons with Castleford, and 2017 was the second of those. The one-time England Knights international, now 29, linked up with Featherstone Rovers ahead of this season. They are the sixth club he’s pulled on a shirt for, including the loan stint he had at Batley Bulldogs during his time as a Cas player.

Minikin recently hit the landmark of 200 career appearances, with 96 of those coming in Tigers’ colours, eventually departing for Hull KR in 2020.

LRL RECOMMENDS: The 6 most underrated players in Super League this year – Castleford Tigers star & St Helens duo included

3. Jake Webster

Jake Webster
Jake Webster in action for Castleford Tigers in 2017

40-year-old Kiwi international Webster is the first name in this team now retired. Born in Melbourne, the centre featured Down Under in the NRL for both Melbourne Storm and the Gold Coast Titans before making the move over to Super League with Hull KR in 2008.

Joining Castleford five years later, he amassed over a century of appearances for the Tigers and went on to don a shirt for both Bradford Bulls & Keighley Cougars before calling time on his career due to a knee injury. He is now the Director of Rugby at Keighley, and in pre-season this year, Cas visited Cougar Park for Webster’s ‘Farewell Game’.

4. Michael Shenton

Michael Shenton. Cas legend. It’s as simple as that. The Pontefract-born centre played 347 games for the Tigers, only spending two seasons away from the Jungle in the entirety of his career, both with St Helens. No one has made more appearances or scored more tries (161) for the Fords in the summer era.

A 12-time England international, Shenton retired in 2021 and having spent time coaching in the youth setup at Hull FC, he made the move to newly-relegated Championship outfit Wakefield Trinity in the off-season just gone. The 37-year-old is now an assistant to a very familiar face at Belle Vue, as we’ll touch on later on in this article…

READ NEXT: Every Super League ever-present in 2024, including Castleford Tigers quartet

5. Greg Eden

Greg Eden
Greg Eden (right) in action for Castleford Tigers during their 2017 Super League play-off semi-final triumph against St Helens

A Castleford lad, Eden debuted for his hometown club in 2011, but never managed to break through into a regular starting position with the Tigers, so departed in search of that. Having established himself as a Super League player, he would return at the start of this 2017 season, and only departed at the end of 2023 as Cas’ second-highest try-scorer of the summer era with 112.

The 33-year-old joined Halifax Panthers when he left The Jungle, but swiftly made a move across the Championship to Featherstone, where he’s recently played in the halves as well as on the wing as is his natural position. During his brief stint at Fax, Eden surpassed the milestone of 200 career appearances, and now has over 150 career tries on his CV, too.

6. Ben Roberts

Australia-born Kiwi & Samoa international rounded off his career with Cas, arriving ahead of the 2015 season and departing in March 2019, when the club agreed to terminate his contract amid a whole host of injury woes. In that time, Roberts amassed 78 appearances for the Tigers and scored 22 tries.

The ex-Canterbury Bulldogs, Parramatta Eels & Melbourne Storm ace had racked up almost 150 NRL appearances before making the move to Super League, and upon leaving Cas, he returned Down Under. Roberts is now 38 and has taken up a role as a Performance Coach based in Sydney. He also helps out coaching rugby league sessions hosted by former NRL player Roy Asotasi.

ANALYSED: Every Super League club’s quota situation as Castleford Tigers confirm Charbel Tasipale exit

7. Luke Gale

Luke Gale
Luke Gale (right) in action for Castleford Tigers during their 2017 Super League play-off semi-final triumph against St Helens

Gale won the Man of Steel in 2017, and he won Cas this game. Scoring a try, he also kicked five goals – including the penalty which took the game into Golden Point. Then, it was his drop goal which won it for the Tigers and sealed their first-ever trip to Old Trafford – 15 of their 23 points scored by the playmaker. Just two weeks earlier, he’d required emergency appendectomy surgery!

An 11-time England international, Gale would suffer two serious injuries which hampered both him and the Tigers, eventually departing The Jungle ahead of the 2020 season when Leeds snapped him up. Four years on, the 36-year-old is now in the Championship with Wakefield, and is just 20 appearances off the remarkable milestone of 400 in his career.

8. Nathan Massey

Hometown boy Massey, 34, came through Castleford’s youth ranks to debut for the club at senior level in March 2007, and until this season, he’d never permanently been contracted anywhere else. With stints on loan or dual-registration at Featherstone, York, Gateshead Thunder & Keighley in-between, the forward made 302 appearances for the Tigers.

Only Michael Shenton has made more for the club to date in the summer era. At the end of last season, Massey joined Championship outfit Fev on a permanent basis, and has made six appearances for them so far this term, scoring his first Rovers try against Dewsbury Rams in May.

STATS: The top try, goal & points scorers in Super League, the Championship & League 1 in 2024

9. Paul McShane

Paul McShane
Paul McShane in action for Castleford Tigers during their 2017 Super League play-off semi-final triumph against St Helens

As we approach the seven-year anniversary of this unforgettable semi-final win, hooker McShane – the 2020 Man of Steel – is the last man standing from this side at The Jungle, still with the Tigers today. The 34-year-old has been a Castleford player since July 2015, with 218 appearances in their colours to date.

Three-time England international McShane is just two appearances off hitting 350 at club level in his career having also donned a shirt for Leeds, Wakefield, Widnes Vikings, Hull FC & Hunslet. He may have to wait a while to hit 350 though, currently sidelined having recently had to have an operation to remove some plates in his arm which caused an infection.

10. Jesse Sene-Lefao

34-year-old Sene-Lefao, a two-time Samoa international, had featured for the Manly Sea Eagles and Cronulla Sharks in the NRL before linking up with Cas ahead of the 2017 season. He’d amass more than 100 appearances for the Tigers over the five seasons which followed before departing and linking up with Featherstone.

The Wellington-born powerhouse spent just one campaign with the Rovers prior to joining fellow second tier outfit Sheffield Eagles ahead of the 2023 season. Sene-Lefao remains with the Eagles today, recently featuring in their 1895 Cup final defeat to Wakefield at Wembley. His 200th career appearance came earlier this year.

LRL RECOMMENDS: Every player in rugby league history to have broken transfer record including Hull FC, Hull KR & Wigan Warriors icons

11. Alex Foster

Alex Foster
Alex Foster in action for Castleford Tigers during their 2017 Super League play-off semi-final triumph against St Helens, tackling Jonny Lomax

Second-rower Foster is now once again Sene-Lefao’s team-mate having joined Sheffield ahead of this season, with the Eagles becoming the ninth different club he’s donned a shirt for – including all loan and dual-registration stints. With 68 in the colours of the Fords, across two stints, the forward is now just 10 away from the milestone of 200 career appearances.

The 30-year-old, born in Gloucester, spent five years at The Jungle during his first stint with the Tigers. Joining on a trial at the start of the 2017 campaign, he was handed a deal until the end of the season come April and by July had been rewarded with a longer-term contract.

Ending that year as the first – and to date only – Cas player to score a try in a Grand Final, with the Tigers beaten 24-6 by Leeds at Old Trafford. Foster eventually departed the club at the end of the 2021 season. But in strange circumstances, he returned last year as a loanee from then-struggling Championship outfit Newcastle Thunder, scoring two tries in six appearances.

12. Mike McMeeken

Basingstoke-born McMeeken arrived at The Jungle from London following the Broncos’ relegation at the end of the 2014 season, and he would go on to make 139 appearances for Cas over six seasons in West Yorkshire before linking up with Catalans Dragons, where he remains today.

10-time England international McMeeken, 30, has featured in two Grand Final defeats for Catalans, making it a hat-trick of Old Trafford heartbreaks. He surpassed the milestone of 250 club career appearances earlier this year, and as of 2025, will be a Wakefield player.

SUPER LEAGUE SQUAD WATCH FOR ROUND 16: All the team news you need to know, plus TV coverage details & kick-off times

13. Adam Milner

Adam Milner
Adam Milner in action for Castleford Tigers in 2017

Academy product Milner is Cas’ third-highest appearance maker in the summer era, sat just one behind former team-mate Massey on 201 having debuted at senior level in July 2010. The 32-year-old scored one of the Tigers’ three tries in this semi-final success, and only departed on a permanent basis at the end of last season.

A three-time England international, the utility joined fellow Super League outfit Huddersfield, who he’d spent the second half of the 2023 campaign on loan with. Milner is 19 off the milestone of 350 career appearances, and 22 off the same figure in club games alone.

Grant Millington (Interchange)

Another modern day Tigers legend. New South Wales native Millington arrived from Down Under – having made 55 NRL appearances – in 2012 and spent 10 seasons with Cas, scoring 33 tries in 244 appearances. Only three men have ever featured more times in Super League for the club – Nathan Massey, Shenton & Adam Milner.

Millington departed the Jungle at the end of the 2021 season and spent the last couple of years of his career back in Australia with the Western Suburbs Red Devils, hanging up his boots for good last year. The 37-year-old is now enjoying retirement Down Under.

LRL EXCLUSIVE: Hull FC weigh up move for Salford Red Devils half-back as part of recruitment strategy

Junior Moors (Interchange)

Junior Moors
Junior Moors in action for Castleford Tigers in 2017

Three-time Samoa international Moors, who will turn 38 later this month, had accrued 70 NRL appearances in the colours of Penrith Panthers, Wests Tigers & Melbourne Storm before he arrived at The Jungle in 2015. He would go on to surpass a century in a Cas shirt, scoring 18 tries in a six-season stint.

Departing at the end of the 2020 season, Moors linked up with Featherstone and scored 10 tries in 63 appearances at Post Office Road to leave his career appearance tally on exactly 250 – including those three games for Samoa in 2013. The Auckland-born ace departed Fev at the end of last season, hanging up his boots, and as far as we know, has stuck around!

Moors co-founded a West Yorkshire-based clothing firm back in 2019, and is now enjoying his retirement alongside his family.

Matt Cook (Interchange)

Dual-code ace Cook began his career in rugby union with Saracens before starting his rugby league journey with Bradford in 2004. Across a career in league which spanned 18 seasons, the Warrington-born ace only donned the shirt of five clubs, with 115 appearances made for Castleford the most for any of those five.

The first three of those 115 came as a loanee – from Bradford – in 2008, with the remaining 112 coming as a permanently-contracted player between 2015 and 2020. Two-time England international Cook hung up his boots a year later following a brief stint with Widnes, and is now – at 37 – the General Manager of the rugby department at Leeds.

READ NEXT: Wigan Warriors coach calls for Super League State of Origin return

Gadwin Springer (Interchange – Unused)

Gadwin Springer
Gadwin Springer (carrying the ball) in action for Castleford Tigers in 2018

As noted above, Springer was named on the interchange bench for the semi-final, but was never called upon. He was also named as the 18th man during the Grand Final which followed. Joining Cas from Catalans midway through the 2015 season, the Frenchman would make 57 appearances for the Fords before departing in 2018.

Cayenne-born Springer – who also had a stint in the French Elite Championship with Villeneuve – is currently with Featherstone and recently surpassed the milestone of 150 club career appearances in the British game. The seven-time France international has been at Post Office Road since June 2022, with this his second stint with the Rovers.

Head coach: Daryl Powell

One of the most experienced coaches in the game, Powell – who will turn 59 later this month – has taken charge of over 500 games, and more than 200 of those were while he was at the helm of Cas. In the hotseat at The Jungle between 2013 and 2021, he led the Tigers to two Challenge Cup finals and the 2017 Grand Final, the latter after they’d won the League Leaders’ Shield.

Departing for Warrington, Powell would last just 18 months at the Halliwell Jones Stadium before being sacked after a defeat at Wakefield last July, the team he now heads up!

The veteran took charge at Belle Vue in the off-season just gone, and has so far done a sterling job, with Trinity sat top of the Championship table boasting a 100% record, and having already tasted silverware this term with victory in the 1895 Cup final at Wembley against Sheffield in June.

READ NEXT: St Helens coach calls on authorities to ‘get a grip’ on international game amid England fallout

St Helens’ line-up from their 2017 Super League play-off semi-final defeat

Justin Holbrook
Justin Holbrook, St Helens’ head coach between May 2017 and the end of the 2019 season

Starting 13: Ben Barba, Tommy Makinson, Ryan Morgan, Mark Percival, Regan Grace, Jonny Lomax, Matty Smith, Luke Douglas, James Roby, Luke Thompson, Morgan Knowles, Zeb Taia, Jon Wilkin

Interchanges: Alex Walmsley, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Dom Peyroux, Theo Fages

Head coach: Justin Holbrook