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Daily Mirror
Daily Mirror
Tom Sunderland

Love Island star Jacques O'Neill gives rugby league return update and 2023 prediction

Jacques O'Neill is hoping to come out of free agency soon as the former Castleford Tiger contemplates a return to the Super League.

O'Neill, 23, was on the books at Wheldon Road for three years prior to exiting his contract in order to compete on the 2022 edition of ITV show Love Island. But the hooker-cum-loose forward is eager to rejoin rugby league's ranks as he continues to adapt to life after 'The Villa'.

"I'm hoping soon, honestly. I'm hoping sooner than I thought, because I miss it," he told Sky Sports after being asked when he'll don his boots again. "I'm going to be honest. When you love something as a kid, it doesn't just go away, and I want to be back."

Where do you think would be Jacques O'Neill's ideal rugby league destination? Let us know in the comments section.

O'Neill was a regular for Castleford during the 2019 and 2020 Super League campaigns, helping the club to a fifth-place finish in the former. He also spent brief stints on loan at Leigh Centurions and Halifax in 2018 and 2019, respectively.

It was announced in June 2022 that the player would be cutting ties with Castleford in order to join the cast of Love Island. Asked whether O'Neill would be returning to the club following his exit from the show the following month, coach Lee Radford said that was "probably a conversation to have further down the line."

Former Love Islander Jacques O'Neill is hoping to find Super League employment ahead of the 2023 season (Allan McKenzie/

Certain fans were all for O'Neill's league comeback in the comments section, where one Twitter user gushed: "He’s a great player. Would be great to have him back." Another touted Catalans Dragons as a potential destination, with the Perpignan-based outfit striving to build on last year's impressive run to fourth.

The prospect failed to feature in the 2022 Super League campaign and saw his 2021 season ended by a recurring hamstring injury, undergoing surgery to reattach the muscle. Having not played or trained consistently in the eight or so months since leaving his only Super League employer, there are no guarantees any of the 12 teams will be keen to offer him a contract, with the new season set to start on February 16.

As for whom he could envision lifting the crown when the new campaign gets underway, the Love Island alumnus struggled to see past incumbent St. Helens. The club is targeting its fifth consecutive Super League title, though it will be their first season under Langtree Park legend Paul Wellens.

“I don’t think anyone has signed good enough to beat Saints again," added O'Neill, who was fielding question from Halliwell Jones Stadium, home of Warrington Wolves. "I’m not sure, but I’m going to tip St. Helens again.”

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