Adam Milner, born in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, is now one of Castleford Tigers' most revered players. A formidable and determined loose-forward, Milner has, however, not had it all his own way in his career so far.

As a youngster, Milner played for amateur side Stanley Rangers where he was picked up by Castleford's scouting team. The signs of his talent were apparent from an early age as Milner represented England Academy as a hooker in the 40-16 victory over France Under-18s at Stade Max Rousié, Paris in June 2010 - just a month before he would make his Super League debut for the Tigers.

He added two more appearances for the Academy national side in the 38-30 victory over the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) at Leigh in December 2010 and a 34-22 victory over the same side at the same stadium just a few days later.

Not only did Milner - grandson of former York, Bramley and Wakefield hooker Laurie Milner - represent England at Academy level, he also captained the national side - a rare feat for any budding Rugby League player. The early part of Milner's career therefore appeared very promising indeed.

Struggles at hooker

Yet, Milner just seemed to be lacking that killer instinct at No.9. His Super League debut against Huddersfield Giants in July 2010 - aged just 18 - was followed up by three more appearances in a Tigers' shirt that season.

For the next four seasons, Milner registered an average of 22 appearances, but struggled to find the consistency and form to knock both former England hooker Ryan Hudson and then 2014 Man of Steel Daryl Clark off their pedestals as the Tigers' greatest hookers at the time. It was Clark's departure, therefore, at the end of 2014 to Super League rivals Warrington, that seemed to pave the way for Milner to make the No.9 shirt his own.

Milner, entrusted by head coach Daryl Powell to emerge from Clark's shadows, still, however, failed to hit the heights that his youth days had promised. And, midway through the 2015 season, Powell snapped up the well-travelled Paul McShane from bitter rivals Wakefield in a swap deal involving the Tigers' second-choice hooker, Scott Moore.

McShane, once a Leeds Rhinos' youngster, registered some impressive performances to once more knock Milner off the No.9 perch.

Though Powell yet again handed Milner the No.9 shirt for 2016, McShane continued to excel as Milner once more slipped down the pecking order. But, Powell had an ace up his sleeve and it was one which has benefitted Milner and the Castleford side as a whole ever since.

Change to loose forward

There is a common misconception that Milner is a natural hooker that has been transformed into a loose forward. Loose forward, however, was the position which he played at school and amateur level. Hooker was, instead, a position Milner was given at the relatively late age of 16 by a coach in one of the many regional camps the sandy-haired Yorkshireman was involved in.

With a greater mobility and handling ability from his time at No.9, the switch back to 13 seemed natural. Instantly, Milner offered something vastly different to what was - and still is - the current trend of playing an extra prop in that position. The added defensive workload may well have caused problems for Milner, but, he took it completely within his stride, going toe-to-toe with some of Super League's most fearsome forwards. By the end of the 2016 season, the Castleford team had a new and exciting dimension to their playing style; with Milner able to put in big minutes at 13, Paul McShane was able to become an eighty-minute hooker.

Strength to strength

The impression which Milner had made towards the back end of 2016 meant he was rewarded with the No.13 shirt for 2017, pushing Nathan Massey out to No.14.

The pressure was now on Milner to continuously perform at the high standards which he had set for himself. In 2017 however, it was no surprise that the Tigers finished the regular season with not only the best points for average, but also the best points against average with the likes of Milner leading the defensive line with such vim and vigour.

Indeed, some of Castleford's best defensive moments rested solely on Milner's shoulders; the superb try-saving tackle on St Helens' Tommy Makinson as the latter was within a hair's width of scoring in the brilliant play-off semi-final epitomised Milner's strength, determination and new-found inspiration at 13. Such was his form that both his teammates and much of the Rugby League fraternity felt he deserved an England call-up - for the first time since Academy level - though Wayne Bennett did not have Milner in his World Cup plans.


Adam Milner was a huge part of Castleford's league-winning success in 2017. His defence was second to none, but his straight running and ball-handling skills regularly got the Tigers on the front foot also. He is now vital to how Castleford play, and, aged just 26, he has many years ahead of him to continue to improve in the loose forward position - a scary thought for a player who was on the cusp of England selection just a year into his new role.

Milner's transformation is one of the most stunning to have taken place in Castleford's Super League history. Once a No.9, devoid of confidence, lacking the killer touch and always destined to play second fiddle, Milner is now a feared, hard-hitting, physical and no-nonsense loose forward that is taking the league by storm. It truly is a Rugby League success story.