Jon Wells, now aged 39, knows the town and club of Castleford like the back of his hand. Born in Kippax, he grew up in the famous mining town of Castleford as a youngster with his dad Steve a PE teacher at Castleford High School. From 1997 until 2002, Jon played for his hometown club, appearing 136 times for the Tigers before going on to play for Wakefield and then London. For the past seven years, Wells has been part of the Sky Sports Rugby League team, impressing audiences with his mid-game and post-match analysis.

Now, he has turned his hand to the boardroom, becoming Castleford's new Director of Rugby just hours after the Tigers released the news that Chief Executive Steve Gill would be stepping down after five years in the role with Mark Grattan assuming the position of Managing Director.

In an out-of-the-blue restructuring, Castleford now have a vital link between the boardroom and the coaching staff.

After first having reservations about the appointment - because I believed that a Director of Rugby would interfere in coaching issues - I now feel that Wells can add that extra something behind-the-scenes - so far he has been making all the right noises.

Castleford lad

Jon Wells knows how much the club means to the fans; after all, he is one of them himself. As a youngster and as a player, Wells has spent most of his life cheering on the Tigers down at Wheldon Road. Now, he is the vital link between coaching staff the and the board, making the Tigers tick behind-the-scenes. His passion for the club is incredible and his determination to continue the club's recent upturn in fortunes - both on and off the field - is impressive to say the least.


But, the appointment of Wells is not just like finding a Castleford fan off the streets and giving them an important job. Wells has an in-depth knowledge of Rugby League; his work as an analyst on Sky Sports - where he picks apart moments of a game on his famous touch screen - is one of the highlights of Sky's coverage of the sport.

His astute analysis on Sky – a role he will continue whilst at the Tigers – will clearly come in handy for Castleford as he looks to help identify future players. Plus, his plethora of links with those in the game can only benefit the Castleford club.

He will work alongside head coach Daryl Powell and Castleford's board of directors looking after "football-related" matters.

John Kear had exactly the same role at Wakefield Trinity from late 2016 until the end of 2017, working alongside head coach Chris Chester and coaching assistant Lee Gilmour. It was a position in which Kear excelled - his intelligence and knowledge of the game proved vital as Trinity ended the 2017 campaign fifth in Super League.

Improving off-field matters

On the field, Castleford have been mightily impressive in recent years. The impact Daryl Powell has had on the club has been colossal since he made the switch from bitter rivals Featherstone in 2013 and last season saw the Tigers finally crack their silverware hoodoo with the League Leaders' Shield. Though the Grand Final turned out to be a damp squib, the fact that Castleford actually walked out at Old Trafford showed the tremendous strides the club has made since the dark days of relegation ten years ago.

Off the field too, Castleford have improved. Steve Gill has been the architect of the club's rise from the ashes and now he has stepped down, leaving a space for Jon Wells and Mark Grattan to fill - albeit in different roles. In this respect, Wells does not have to even think about the business side of things - which Grattan will look after - and can instead concentrate on improving the quality of the squad. Gill, effectively, took care of both issues as Chief Executive despite the fact that he had no previous business experience.

Now that the positions have been split, the communication from the top to the bottom is likely to be clearer with Wells and Grattan left to manage roles in which they have an abundance of experience.

After playing the sport for 13 years and having been a top analyst on Sky Sports, Wells knows what type of player can improve a side. Grattan, on the other hand, is a former Coca-Cola operative and has a wealth of business experience that Gill - although he did a fantastic job as Chief Executive - lacked.

Straight into the fray

Wells has wasted no time in stamping his authority on Super League; on Rugby League Backchat, the former winger took a substantial amount of credit for the signing of powerhouse prop Liam Watts. If Castleford are going to maintain their momentum from last season, this is the type of signing that the club needs. Clearly, Wells acted fast in his new role; Toronto were said to be on the verge of signing the 27-year-old before Castleford and Wells stepped in.

The signs are already looking good for Wells in his new position at the Mend-a-hose Jungle, but it is still early days and he has had no previous experience in the said role of Director of Rugby. Wells, however, back at his hometown club, is determined to unearth the gems that can propel the Tigers to greater success.