x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Danny Orr has Castleford Tigers roaring again

The Super League player is excited about being able to pass on his experience to the promising crop of youngsters coming through the ranks at The Jungle.

Danny Orr also coaches Castleford’s Under 18 side.
Danny Orr also coaches Castleford’s Under 18 side.

Danny Orr has got the Castleford Tigers roaring again after returning to his hometown club.

Castleford have proved the surprise package in the Super League this season, sitting second in the table, two points behind the Warrington Wolves with a game in hand.

And much of the shock and Orr can be put down to the return of their prodigal son.

Orr, now 32, spent seven years at Castleford after making his debut as a precocious teenager in 1997 but moved to the Wigan Warriors in 2004 and then spent four years with Harlequins.

He is relishing his dual role with the Tigers, as the playmaker on the pitch and the coach of the Under 18 side.

And he is excited about being able to pass on his experience to the promising crop of youngsters coming through the ranks at The Jungle.

"There's a real element of talented youngsters coming through now which wasn't necessarily the case when I was last here," he told the BBC. "The club has clearly put a lot of effort into developing the youth teams. If you look at our squad now, it is full of young Cas lads. These kids will do anything for the club when they put on a Tigers shirt."

It is this sort of emphasis on youth development which is key in the Super League because of the pay restrictions that accompany the game's salary cap. And it is paying dividends for most clubs. When Wigan, a club considered to be the Manchester United of rugby league, played Warrington last Friday, 11 of the 17-strong squad were graduates of their academy.

Such a success rate in promoting potential bodes well for the future but it also has its dangers as Super League's rising stars are stalked by predators from rugby union.

Chris Ashton, England's top try scorer in this season's Six Nations, learnt his trade at Wigan before his cross-code switch to the Northampton Saints, and Kyle Eastmond, the exciting 21-year-old St Helens half-back, will move to rugby union club Bath at the end of the season.

There has been a sea change in the financial clout wielded by the two codes since union became fully professional. The days when league clubs regularly raided the 15-man game for top talent are long gone. Indeed the sharks are circling Super League's reigning Man of Steel. The Sale Sharks, the Stockport-based union club, are reported in the British media to be tracking Pat Richards, Wigan's goal-kicking wing of a full-back, who last year scored a club record 410 points but is out of contract at the end of the season.