Castleford Tigers delighted that promising young full-back Fletcher Rooney has committed to the club

​One of Castleford Tigers’ rising stars out of their academy has committed to the club by signing a deal to stay until 2026.
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​Full-back Fletcher Rooney, who made his debut for the first team against Leeds Rhinos in 2023, has agreed his first professional contract after stepping up from academy level and is out to make big progress next year.“I’ve been working towards it since scholarship,” he said.

"It’s big for me and my family to get a professional contract for the first team next year.

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"When I found out Cas were offering me another two years I couldn’t resist it, I wanted to sign it straight away and get stuck in and keep working.

Fletcher Rooney has signed a new deal with Castleford Tigers. Photo by SWPixFletcher Rooney has signed a new deal with Castleford Tigers. Photo by SWPix
Fletcher Rooney has signed a new deal with Castleford Tigers. Photo by SWPix

“This year I want to keep learning from more experienced players and in the next few years try to get some more games and make a name for myself."

Rooney has come through the junior ranks, starting out in the scholarship set up, with the Tigers and was delighted to have been brought into the first team squad last season, when playing in his first Super League match.

He added: "The Leeds game was one of the best feelings of my life. All my life I’ve been working towards that moment, it was a big thing for me, and my family. It meant everything to me.”

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Tigers’ head of rugby operations Danny Wilson has seen the youngster develop over the last year and is pleased that Rooney has committed himself to the club for two more years.

He said: “It’s fantastic news first and foremost!

"It’s great to show the direction that the club are going in.

"Fletcher burst onto the scene last year from a first team point of view and made his Super League debut at Headingley, which was a great day for him.

“His debut didn’t just come out of the blue. It’s all down to Fletcher's hard work and commitment.

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"You watch him at Academy training and he’s on the field for an hour after everyone else practising different things and he’s got the right attributes that we want for a player coming through at Cas.

"So, there’s no surprise at the club for what we’ve offered Fletch and we’re really grateful that he sees his future here at the club.”

Players like Rooney are going to be vital going forward as Cas look to develop their own talent as they did successfully a decade or so ago and Wilson explained how they intend to make the pathway a successful one for their best youngsters.

He said: “It's really important that we get this bit right, I think it’s something that all successful clubs do.

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"Sometimes entering the first team environment can be a big jump. In the past teams have fallen into throwing a kid into the deep end.

"For Fletch we’re going to manage his development. We have big plans for him at this club, but it takes time.

"We’ll be looking at a hybrid programme. He’ll be in two or three times a week when Craig (Lingard) and the staff feel it’s right for him to be involved and when it’s right for his development and his challenge, so he’ll be in and around the emerging talent group with the academy and the first team moving forward to next year being a first team player."

Wilson hopes to see more young, hungry talent in the Cas side in the future.He added: “Getting your systems right is everything, then it’s all about what talent you’re putting in those systems and how you nurture them.

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"Fletch is probably the first one that has come through our system.

"The club’s had some really good recent success with Jason Qareqare, Sam Hall, and others like that.

"The band system that we offer now is very strong and robust and Fletch will be first out of plenty more to come hopefully.

"Fletch has shown his aspirations to play first team and we’re happy that he has accepted his deal.”

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Castleford Tigers, meanwhile, have made their disappointment known after finding out that their indicative grading score for 2024 will not be reconsidered.

The club requested an exemption to resubmit their data capture form, having discovered after their initial submission that it had not contained the correct data.

While sympathetic to their position and recognising that the resubmission would lead to an increase in the club’s indicative grading score, the RFL board ruled that it would be unfair to other clubs – several of who have also sought unsuccessfully to have data submitted after the deadline considered – to make changes after the indicative gradings have been published.

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It left Cas in 13th place, which would mean they would be left out of Super League in 2025 if the same position was attained in 2024.

In response the club said: “As a club we are disappointed that the RFL will not change the gradings, however we are pleased to hear that they have agreed that our score would increase to 12.91. This gives us a great base to work from to push our score as high as we can in readiness for the 2025 gradings.

"This was one of the reasons the indicative grading process has been run in 2023 – as a dry run, with no bearing on teams’ positions for the 2024 season, but to give all clubs a clear idea of where they stand and where they need to improve.”