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Sky Sports Rugby League pundit Jon Wilkin reacts as former Castleford Hooker Jacques O’Neill leaves the Love Island villa and could now return to his former club
Castleford Tigers have offered welfare support to Jacques O’Neill after his controversial exit from Love Island but coach Lee Radford is unsure whether the 23-year-old will return to the club.
O’Neill left the club last month to take part in the reality TV show but on Tuesday announced his departure from the dating programme, saying that he needed to “get back to himself”.
He visited Castleford on Wednesday morning and the club have the first option to re-sign the hooker if he wanted to resume his rugby league career.
When asked about re-signing O’Neill, Castleford coach Lee Radford said: “It’s not something we’ve spoke about, obviously it only happened last night, he flew home last night.
"He looked jaded, he’d had no sleep, obviously all the euphoria of doing what he’s been doing, I suppose, that’s probably a conversation for further down the line, I think.”
Speaking about O’Neill leaving the show to protect his mental health, Radford said: “Like any walk of life there are obstacles in front of you, unfortunately, making sure people are around you whether that be your family or club related to help you deal with that is pretty important.”
Speaking about his own experience of mental health, Radford added: “Criticism you tend to keep it within yourself and use it as a motivator, I think that’s a generational thing.
Lee Radford has not spoken to Jacques O’Neill about rejoining Castleford
"I think its more open and spoke about now than it probably ever has been. I think I am probably from a different generation.”
Castleford confirmed in a statement O’Neill will be able to receive support from Castleford’s welfare officer “should he wish”.
A statement said: “In advance of appearing on the reality TV show Love Island, the Tigers’ welfare officer had communication with O’Neill, and this support will continue to be offered to him. Alongside the welcoming nature of our first-team environment, of which he has been a part since the age of 16.
"Castleford Tigers’ primary focus with Jacques at this stage will be to support him. All at the club look forward to welcoming Jacques and his mother Janet to The Mend-A-Hose Jungle for a Betfred Super League match very soon, to cheer on the Fords.
"The club will make no further comment at this stage.”
O’Neill has made 29 appearances for the Tigers and was named in the England Knights performance squad in 2021.