Davis being relied on to rescue Castleford cause
Sunday 15 August 2004
Castleford need to win at Huddersfield today if they are to have a realistic chance of avoiding Super League relegation. And to have brought back Brad Davis in mid-season at the age of 36 now looks like a masterstroke. Where it might have looked like a desperate manoeuvre, there have been times, notably in his sparkling performance against Widnes last month, when he has looked capable of rescuing them.
There are those who believe this is an indictment of the British game - that a struggling side can actually be improved by bringing in a veteran Australian back from France - but Davis is something of a special case.
His career has been an unusual one. A late developer in his homeland, he came to Britain virtually as a backpacker to play for the ill-fated Nottingham club. His British career began in earnest at York, but it was at Cas in his first stint that he established himself as a top-flight player.
Almost four years ago, he decided that he was too old and shipped himself off to Wakefield. This season, different circumstances have radically changed perceptions.
Davis knows he could not play a full season in Super League at his age. The theory is that he has enough left in the tank for the games that matter and Castleford need him to produce one of his specials at Huddersfield today.
"It's a game we must win," he says. With London now effectively out of reach, Cas have to concentrate on getting within striking distance of Widnes, their opponents once more in the penultimate Super League game of the season.
"We need to get within two points of Widnes so that the game puts them under pressure," says Davis.
It is hard to see how they can do that without victory at the Galpharm Stadium today; defeat would mean that the unthinkable humiliation of Castleford outside the top division for the first time will be all too real.
Davis's own future lies in coaching. He already has some experience in that area with his French club, Villeneuve, to whom he has the option of returning next season. Alternatively, he could be of great interest to his old club, York, or there could be a role for him at Castleford, in one division or the other.
He has already had some input on the training field at The Jungle. "I haven't done too much, because I still have a challenge in front of me as a player - and it's a very big challenge.'' That goes for him and all his team-mates at Huddersfield this afternoon. Castleford need some inspiration and their old favourite has shown that he can still provide it.
In Friday night's matches, London Broncos tasted success at St Helens, 28-22, the defeat being Saints' fourth in their last five games. Bradford claimed third place outright as they moved within a point of Hull with a 38-12 victory over top-six rivals Wigan at Odsal.
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