With Castleford struggling to find a solution to their problem in the No.1 position, a whole host of fullbacks have been linked with Castleford for 2019 including the likes of Jake Mamo, David Mead and Niall Evalds. The new name that seems to be cropping up over social media is that of Brad Abbey, a 21-year-old New Zealander currently plying his trade in the NRL for Canberra Raiders. But, who is he and could he fit in at the Jungle?

Upbringing and early career

Brad Abbey - born in Auckland, New Zealand - played his junior Rugby League for Auckland Rugby League sides Pakuranga Jaguars and Richmond Rovers until he was scouted by NRL side New Zealand Warriors at the end of 2013 aged just 16.

As a teenager, Abbey played for the Warriors' National Youth Competition (NYC) side and, over the course of two years (2014 and 2015), the towering fullback played 53 games, scoring 127 points - a tally of 24 tries, 15 goals and one drop-goal. And, in 2014, Abbey was instrumental in the Warriors' NYC Grand Final-winning side, asserting his role as first-choice fullback.

Move to Canterbury

With game time limited for the New Zealand Warriors' first team, Abbey signed a three-year deal with Canterbury Bulldogs in November 2015 aged just 19. After starring for the Warriors' NYC team, the fullback was handed a call-up to the Junior Kiwis' side in May 2016 and played against the Junior Kangaroos, impressing with his solid defence and exciting attacking ability.

With Will Hopoate and Brett Morris in front of Abbey for the No.1 spot at the Bulldogs, his game time was yet again limited and he registered just four NRL appearances for the Bulldogs in 2017 after making his debut in round three, scoring one try and kicking one goal. In those four games however, Abbey showed just why he is predicted to have a very bright future in Rugby League.


In November 2017, Abbey was on the move once more. In a swap deal that involved Raiders player Clay Priest going to Canterbury, the fullback joined the "Green Machine" on a two-year deal. Though he has yet to feature for the Raiders in 2018, he is still only 21 and is thought very highly of in Australia. So then, just why is he on Castleford's radar?

Answer to Castleford's problems?

Tigers' head coach Daryl Powell has experimented with three fullbacks so far in 2018 - Ben Roberts, Jake Trueman and Michael Shenton - and none have been the answer. What Castleford are missing is someone who can take charge of the defensive line, take the high ball confidently and chime into the line with perfect timing. Abbey - from past videos of his time at the Warriors' NYC team and in his four NRL appearances - looks able to do all three.

Abbey has shown he has vision, pace to burn and the communication necessary for being a top fullback. At 6 ft, he has a commanding presence at the back and a confidence that belies his youthful age. If such a deal can be finalised for Abbey, he could well have a long and glittering career with the Tigers.

Furthermore, he is perfectly suited to Super League; his fast footwork and impressive agility could light up the first tier of Rugby League. Could Brad Abbey be Castleford's long-term fullback solution?