JAKE Trueman insists he will have to fight for his spot in 2019, despite starting 25 matches in a row during his breakthrough season for Castleford Tigers.

The teenager, a product of the Bradford Bulls Academy, would have toured Papua New Guinea with the England Knights but for breaking his hand in the final Super 8s fixture and his progress has been recognised with the number six jersey for the new season.

The former West Bowling player, 19, said: "That was nice but it doesn't guarantee me a starting spot, with people like Cory Aston, Ben Roberts and Jamie Ellis all after them two spots.

"I've got to train well and play well to get one of them. I've talked with Daryl a lot about stepping up my leadership and communication skills.

"That's one of Luke Gale's strengths, he a great organiser and, without him, someone going to step up in that role."

Tigers coach Daryl Powell, who had tipped Trueman to make a big impact in 2018, is confident he can kick on despite his tender years.

"He's a pretty durable kid, I think he'll be alright," Powell said.

"There are always things that a player in his second full year has to be aware of but I'm confident Truey will continue to improve.

"He's pretty unassuming, he doesn't get rattled by things too much."

Meanwhile, the Rugby Football League (RFL) has confirmed it has discretion to grant salary cap relief to Castleford.

The Tigers, who are close to the £2 million wage ceiling, are considering submitting a request for relief after resigning themselves to being without England half-back Luke Gale for most of, if not all, the 2019 season with a ruptured Achilles.

The governing body say they can offer clubs dispensation "in certain circumstances" but Powell will first assess alternative options within his squad when he takes them to Lanzarote tomorrow for the club's warm-weather training camp.

Powell has specialist half-backs Jamie Ellis, Ben Roberts and former Bulls loanee Aston all available to partner Trueman, the reigning Super League young player of the year.

"It will be interesting to see what happens with the players who can play in that position," Powell said.

"I'm looking forward to the battle actually. I think it will be interesting."

Aston has spent the last two seasons in Super League, initially with Leeds, without making a single top-flight appearance, and is hoping to get his opportunity this year.

"As a club, we're devastated for Galey," said Aston. "It was real tough on Saturday morning when he went down.

"It could be a good opportunity for me but I can only control what I can control. I'll keep doing what I can to put my best foot forward."

Aston, 23, who was coached at his old club Sheffield Eagles by his father Mark, laid down a marker with a man-of-the-match performance in Castleford's 56-0 win over Featherstone in their pre-season friendly.

"It has been a frustrating last couple of years not getting that opportunity," added Aston, who spent most of last year on loan to his old club.

"But, if I keep working hard, I'm sure that opportunity will come."