Castleford Tigers Women confirm new signings and new captain for 2022
Castleford Tigers Women have added to their squad on the eve of their first game of the new season with a trio of signings from Sandal RUFC.
Courtney Evans, Verity Randall and Ellie Sykes are the latest to join the new look Tigers team who open their campaign with a Betfred Challenge Cup group game at home to Wakefield Trinity's also reshaped side on Sunday.
Having all spent time playing rugby union with Sandal, the trio are keen to get involved with rugby league and felt joining the Tigresses was a good option for them.
Courtney has played rugby league before as she explained: “I began playing rugby at 13 through my high school and then moved onto Castleford RUFC until open age at 18. During that time, I was selected for Yorkshire U15s.
Jordan Turner's return to squad boosts Castleford Tigers' play-offs bid
NCEL round-up: Four-midable Horbury Town maintain flying start following promotion
‘We are not done yet’ warns Wakefield Trinity boss Willie Poching
Eddie Morrison is five alive in Castleford victory
PICTURE GALLERY: Normanton Knights defeat play-off rivals Clock Face Miners
“I joined Sandal’s women’s team afterwards and went on to represent Wakefield Trinity at Championship level. Following that, I played at Oulton Raidettes open age and Yorkshire Women’s rugby league team too.”
During her time at Sandal, Courtney was joined by half-back Verity and prop Ellie and both have been encouraged to switch codes by their friends and they are enjoying it so far.
Verity said: “All my friends were beginning to play league, so I wanted to join them. It was a new skill to learn and I’ve really enjoyed it – the atmosphere has been great.
"Castleford are a big club and whilst having high expectations may seem daunting it will be a great challenge.”
Ellie said: “I’ve always wanted to play for Castleford with its history and there were plenty of my friends who played here last year.
“I want to try and get myself back into the league routine and build my confidence up.
"I’d say my qualities are putting my body on the line, being aggressive and vocal on the field."
As somebody who has played both union and league, Courtney is one of the more experienced players of the squad and has guided some of the relatively new players. Versatile to play wing, centre or full-back, the 22-year-old is eager to make her mark on the Women’s Super League and feels now is the right time.
“It’s a massive achievement and I’m very pleased to get this opportunity to join Castleford. I played for Wakefield Trinity up until they reached the Women’s Super League and that’s when I went to Oulton.
“The coach at the time didn’t feel I was ready for the Super League, but it would be an achievement to prove him wrong.
“I’d say I’m the one who keeps people enthusiastic but at the same time keeps prodding to make sure we as a team continue moving forward.”
The latest signings follow on from four more players brought in from Sandal in Frankie Cartwright, Imogen Coxon, Tahnee Holmes and Darcie Sloane as well as 17-year-old Brigshaw High School student Kayleigh Goddard, another 17-year-old, Natalia Mia, who came through the ranks at Normanton Knights, and young half-back Chloe Smith, also 17, and a former Normanton Knights player who had a spell with Huddersfield Giants in 2021.
Kaitlin Varley, meanwhile, has been named as Castleford captain and will be one of the youngest in the competition at just 18.
She said: “Last year was really difficult; we had lots of ups and downs, but I think we overcame them really well. It shows what this club is capable of doing.
“My debut last season was amazing and a lot to take in. Personally, I think this year it’s about building on what I achieved last season and making it a whole lot better. My aim for this year is to be bigger, faster, stronger and make an impact on the Super League.
“It’s important to rebuild the community and make a strong team out of Castleford Tigers and I wanted to be part of that. The rebuilding is going really well, we’ve got a good bunch of girls in right now so it’s looking up.
“To be one of the youngest captains in the competition is a bit nerve racking but I’m ready for the challenge. The likes of Jodie Cunningham and other captains in Super League, you want to be like them when you look at how they lead their teams out.”
Head coach Matty Faulkner explained his decision to make Kaitlin his skipper: “We have had to reset the squad and Kaitlin has been loyal and stuck around, she’s shown a real passion and energy for Castleford despite receiving offers from other clubs.
“She is young but leads by example and has a lot of good things to say to the rest of her teammates. I think that Kaitlin deserves to be rewarded with this captaincy.
“Kaitlin is an excellent role model for girls of Castleford who are going through the system. She has played at local clubs, and I think that women who are young, aspiring rugby league players can look up to her.
“I’m not worried one bit about how young she is, Kaitlin has a very mature head on her shoulders.”