The Castleford Tigers halfback is on a quest to regain the form he had prior to his 2021 season-ending back injury; He will be part of the side that takes on league leaders St Helens on Friday live on Sky Sports Arena at 8pm
By Megan Wellens
Last Updated: 21/04/22 4:02pm
After bursting onto the scene in 2017 against St Helens, Jake Trueman was dubbed one of the most exciting young talents Super League has to offer. On Friday, he will face a youthful Saints outfit on his quest to return to the exciting form of those earlier years.
After his introduction to Super League in 2017, Trueman was lauded by teammates and coaches alike for his natural talent, former Castleford coach and current Warrington Wolves coach Daryl Powell backing the youngster to be “world class”.
The accolades followed the ringing endorsements and in just his second season in the professional game, the Tigers halfback was named the Super League Young Player of the Year for 2018, cementing him as a star halfback for his club with the potential to represent his country.
However, an 18-month back injury came to its climax during the 2021 season, the 23-year-old undergoing surgery in a bid to start his fightback to full fitness and regain his form from seasons previous.
Opening up on his recovery ahead of the Tiger’s round ten clash with St Helens, Trueman said: “I am relatively happy, there is a lot more to come from me.
“I think I am nowhere near where I want to be but I am just happy to be back and not injured, feeling good and feeling fit with no problems with my back.
“It was going on for 18 months, two years which is a long time to be worrying about an injury so in the end I was just glad to get the operation done and get back and I am feeling good now.
“Physically I think I am back to my full fitness now it is just about getting the games in and getting back to my best form.”
Castleford take on a much changed St Helens outfit on Friday, with up to ten potential debutants available for selection for the League Leaders.
Having made his debut in the most similar of circumstances, coming up against St Helens, he knows that such a unique opportunity will have the St Helens youngsters out to prove themselves at the Mend-a-Hose Jungle, just like he did back in 2017.
“They will be coming over here with no pressure on them, just told to come over here and enjoy their debut and that is what I did here back in 2017 just no pressure, play your best and they are the games you want to play in and if they get the win it is a massive day for them,” says Trueman.
“We have to get into the grind a little bit more, we talked about it this morning.
“We aren’t in a place at the minute where we can start worrying about what the opposition is going to do, we have got loads of improvements ourselves so that is the aim this week to just focus on ourselves.
“We have too many errors and penalties in our game at the minute which is allowing teams to come at us a little bit too much so a big focus for us this week is getting in the grind, going set for set and not giving them easy outs.
“I still think there is a lot more in us.
“We are still a bit too inconsistent at the minute, I think you saw that against Leeds on Monday we were pretty poor and against Hull KR we were poor so that is just a big one for us is getting that consistency right.”
Radford: Young St Helens squad a ‘terrifying’ prospect
Castleford Tigers head coach Lee Radford is under no illusions of how much of a test the “fresh legs” of St Helens will be on Friday night, reiterating to his side that they must not give in to complacency.
“Obviously we are going to be playing against some fresh legs and it is up to us to make sure we find enough energy to get the job done,” says Radford.
“We have just got to try and dampen their enthusiasm really early tomorrow.
“It is terrifying when you see a squad named like that because such a natural thing to do is show complacency and we have to make sure we are bang at it tomorrow.”
Castleford have been in better form in the latter stages of this season and the Tigers head coach wants to see his side continue on that upward trajectory.
He said: “There were some areas that we weren’t great at on Monday and we really want to improve on those.”
Then when we have had a look at where we are in certain areas this season statistically, there are some that glare out at us that we want to get better at and hopefully tomorrow is an opportunity to improve and take a step forward in some of those areas.
“I think, ironically, it is to look after the ball better than we did on Monday.
“Some of those errors were fatigue and some of those errors were decision making under fatigue but if you look in the competition, St Helens have the worst completion rate and we are second worst but they are very much prepared to defend the errors they make.
“We have to keep hold of the ball a little bit more on Friday because of the young fresh legs these blokes are going to come with.”
The Castleford Tigers take on St Helens at 8pm on Friday, live on Sky Sports Arena