Trueman ready to shine
CASTLEFORD TIGERS’ ROOKIE PLAYMAKER JAKE TRUEMAN IS HAPPY TO BE THRUST INTO THE SPOTLIGHT, INSISTING IT WILL BRING OUT THE BEST IN HIM.
Still a teenager when the Betfred Super League season kicked off in February, the responsibility on Trueman’s young shoulders was increased when his experienced half-back partner, England international Luke Gale, was ruled out with a ruptured Achilles.
Worse was to follow when back-up scrum-half Jamie Ellis was sidelined for up to six months with a knee injury, while utility back Ben Roberts was released and the half-back jinx struck once more when Jordan Rankin tore a hamstring in training.
“There probably is a bit more pressure on me, a bit more responsibility,” Trueman said. “Those players are all good organisers so you’ve got to step up in that department.
“I’ve just turned 20 but I like it, I think it brings out the best in me when I’ve got that pressure on me. I’ve got to perform.”
Trueman, Super League’s young player of the year for 2018, found himself with a different half-back partner for the third successive game against Wigan Warriors last Friday when Peter Mata’utia was switched to stand-off, with coach Daryl Powell bringing in youngster Calum Turner in at full-back.
Mata’utia demonstrated his versatility by helping spark a remarkable fightback with a try and five goals in a 38-28 victory that keeps the Tigers in third place in the table going into Thursday’s round 10 fixture at Huddersfield Giants.
“He’s got all the skills,” Trueman said of the Samoan utility back. “His main attribute is ball running but he’s strong and he’s got subtlety to his game which allows him to play in the halves.
“Him and Turner split the field and I play down the middle so I get my hands on the ball a bit more which I think suits my style of play.”
Castleford are four points behind Warrington and St Helens but the early pacesetters play each other on Friday so there is a chance for Powell’s men to make some inroads.
“It’s a big opportunity,” Trueman said. “Someone is going to drop some points there so we’ve a chance to close the gap.
“I don’t think we’ve played anywhere near our best. Even in the games we’ve won, I don’t think we’ve played particularly well.
“When we’ve reviewed them, we seen loads of improvements in us so hopefully over the next few weeks we’ll get a bit more of a rhythm.”
After beginning the season with four straight defeats, Huddersfield have started to climb away from the foot of the table by winning three of their last five matches and Trueman says the Tigers must put the shackles on England winger Jermaine McGillvary if they are to get the win.
“The back three for them are massive,” Trueman said. “Jermaine McGillvary, Darnell McIntosh and Akuila Uate get their sets started and they’ve got some big forwards who can roll off the back of that.
“If we can limit their metres at the back, especially McGillvary who’s been running for over 150 metres in games this season, then it will go a long way to beating them.”