Castleford Tigers were international break big winners after recruitment boost

Of all the winners to come out of England's mid-season international against France, Castleford Tigers were arguably among the biggest. Star centre Sam Wood made his international debut in the victory, becoming the club's first England international representative since Paul McShane.

Castleford haven't been the most prominent club when it comes to producing England players. In fact, Wood is one of just four players in the last six years to play for England while on Castleford's books.

So Wood's emergence on the international scene is of particular significance to the Tigers, particularly when you consider the finer details of the timing and the fact that it is Wood himself.

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The 26-year-old only joined Castleford in the off-season as part of a revamped recruitment strategy, one that would see the Tigers target younger players they can improve who, in turn, can improve the team too.

Wood was part of that process, joining after spells at Huddersfield Giants and Hull KR. At both of those clubs, Wood was an important squad player capable of playing several positions, but one who struggled to nail down a regular place or position in the team.

Castleford offered an opportunity for him to play a more prominent role, identifying him as a player who could enhance his career and enhance the team at the same time. Within a year of arriving, he has earned England honours for the first time.

In doing so, Castleford have just secured their biggest sales pitch to potential new recruits. Wood is hard evidence that the club can provide a platform for players to better themselves, a club where they increase their stock.

"It's good for us as a club because it shows you might take a gamble coming here but that you will be rewarded if you take the opportunity with both hands," head coach Craig Lingard said.

"It shows younger players that you don't have to play for a top-four club to catch the attention of England selectors. We've played Wigan four times and I'm sure that didn't go unnoticed.

"With Sam specifically, the versatility he's got in his game has perhaps been a detriment to him; he's played wing, centre, and back-row on both sides. It's a positive, but it can be a hindrance.

"But he wanted to nail his colours to the mast, and we were willing to provide him that opportunity. The attitude he's brought in has been excellent, and the environment has helped him. He's found consistency on the left side, and it's great for him and us as a club that he's got an England cap."