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CASTLEFORD say they will not rush to sign a replacement for injured England scrum-half Luke Gale.
The Tigers sought salary cap dispensation from the Rugby Football League to offset the loss of Gale for the 2019 season with a ruptured Achilles tendon and director of rugby Jon Wells confirmed their application has been successful.
It is rare for clubs to seek salary cap relief but Castleford made their move after receiving confirmation from a specialist that Gale, who underwent surgery on Thursday, will be sidelined for between nine and 12 months.
“There is no real aim at the moment,” Wells said. “It gives us the facility to bring someone in as when a half-back becomes available.
“Our main concern is Luke and we would like him to take the opportunity to spend some quality time with his young family.”
Gale, the 2017 Man of Steel, missed four months of the 2018 season with a fractured kneecap and was ruled out of England’s end-of-year Test series against New Zealand after undergoing further knee surgery.
Already set to sit out the first month of the new campaign as he continued his recuperation from his latest knee operation, Gale looks certain to be ruled out until 2020 and will not be available for the proposed Great Britain tour to New Zealand in October.
A spokesman for the RFL confirmed Castleford had been successful in their application to remove Gale’s salary from their 2019 cap but said that, if the player makes a quicker than expected recovery, the club would need permission to play him this year.
That situation arose in 2016 when Warrington forward Ben Harrison was initially ruled out for the season with a shoulder reconstruction.
When the player recovered before the end of the season the Wolves sought permission to play him but were denied and he ended up on loan at Wakefield.
Castleford coach Daryl Powell, who took his squad to Lanzarote on Thursday for their pre-season warm-weather training camp, will run the rule over potential replacements in house before deciding whether to scour the market for a new half-back.
Powell has Jamie Ellis, Ben Roberts and Cory Aston available to partner Super League’s 2018 young player of the year Jake Trueman at half-back when they kick off the new season against Catalans Dragons on February 1.
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