Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has praised his players for their attitude and performance level in the first three games of the new Super League season.
With victories in all three of their matches so far the Tigers have surprised many critics who had them down as potential strugglers this year.
But the hard work in pre-season is already paying dividends, as is a smart recruiting campaign that has given them their strongest squad, depth wise, for some years.
The latest win, 30-10 at Hull KR, highlighted the strides made so far in defence and the way the players defended their line in particular pleased their head coach.
“The players have made a fantastic start to the season,” said Powell.
“We are talking about keeping our focus and not getting too carried away, but I don’t think that will happen.
“The players have been superb and I thought the performance at Hull KR in terms of attitude and commitment was outstanding.
“Our defence gave us a really good platform from which to work.
“We had a fair bit of defending to do on our own try line for different reasons so we had to work hard for each other and just kept turning up.
“We were obviously down to 12 men strangely at one point and we just hung in there.
“They got one try at that point, but to go the whole of the second half without conceding a point was outstanding.
“I think the players have worked really hard in pre-season and we’ve got a really good platform for ourselves. We just need to kick on from this.”
Powell was also pleased with the way his team coped with some adversity from a number of decisions by the officials that went against them.
He added: “We got a couple of tough calls, which made life difficult for us.
Obviously Liam Finn’s sin-binning was a tough call and there were others I couldn’t quite get my head around, but we’ve just become a team that brushes off different issues pretty quickly and just gets on with the job at hand.
“From talking to the players they feel like that and that it doesn’t really matter what we get rattled with we just get on with it.
“We’ve been asked a lot of questions and have answered them all so far. It’s about keep answering them.
“There were some good performances across the board. It’s difficult to pick anyone out at the moment, there’s so many people putting their hand up and playing really well.
“The foundation at the moment is our pack, who have been superb. They’re not only tough, but pretty skilful as well and they are delivering some excellent things with and without the ball for us.”