AFTER an impressive winning start to the new season Castleford Tigers head coach Ian Millward is set to give the players a huge vote of confidence by aiming to name an unchanged team for tomorrow’s (Sunday) first home game.
Millward (pictured) was delighted with the performance as well as the 24-10 result against Salford City Reds and is ready to reward the players involved by keeping the same 17 for the visit of Bradford Bulls to the Probiz Coliseum tomorrow (3.30pm).
He told the Express: “We’ve got a few bumps and bruises and we’ll make a late decision on the final line-up, but I’m looking at retaining the same players.
“There’s no major injuries and hopefully we should be in a position where all 17 from last week are fit. If that’s the case I’ll retain them.
“Jonathan Walker came through okay in his first senior start since injury. He’s still got a bit of work to do, but it was good to see him come through.
“There’s no-one else likely to be back from injury for this weekend.”
Cas overcame difficult snowy conditions to get their Stobart Super League and Millward’s reign as coach off to a flying start and the way the players adapted was among the reasons to feel pleased.
“The boys did a really good job,” said Millward.
“Conditions were very tough, but they handled it well. I was very happy with the start, it worked out well.
“We had to adjust a little bit because of the weather. But I was happy to play and didn’t want to have to catch a game up. It was the same for both teams. The kick-chase game was good and it was more of an attitude thing that we did so well in that aspect of the game.
“I was very pleased with the way the boys did all the little things.
“There was some strong running, the players were very motivated and they played well. We made more than 1,500 metres, which is a high figure.
“I was pleased for the staff that we were able to perform so well, because they have worked very hard.
“It’s important to get off to a winning start, but its not easy in the first round and your attitude, desire and the way you go about things is really tested. We came up trumps in that area.
“The defence was good. Conditions helped reduce the score, but having conceded just on 30 points a game last year it was a step in the right direction.
“Obviously it’s a little bit of a focus at the moment to improve the points against, but we want to see that for more than just one week. We need that more consistently and more regular over the season.”
Millward picked out several players for special praise:
“There were some outstanding contributions from throughout the team. Everyone played a big part, but I thought our two wingers and full-back were very good in the conditions.
“It was a very pleasing debut from Josh Griffin, who showed he can play wing as well as centre where he’s been in pre-season.
“Our back row of Stuart Jones, Oliver Holmes and Lee Mitchell were very strong.
“It was hard to fault anyone as we were very solid in all departments. The skill level was quite high in the conditions and the handling was pretty good.”
Castleford are now preparing to host a Bradford side looking to bounce back from an opening day defeat to Catalan and are determined to put up a good show for the fans without taking their opponents lightly.
“I’m really looking forward to our first home game and so are the players,” said Millward.
“Our fans were fantastic at Salford. We took well over 1,600 fans on the weekend and their support was very good. They really got behind the team. We’d like to give them something more to cheer against Bradford.
“I’m expecting a tough game because they are a really good team.
“I went to see them play on Sunday and they were a little bit off the pace, but with a little bit of confidence they will be up there with the better teams. They’ve bought a lot of players and salary cap wise they’ve spent more than us.
“They’ve got a lot of good players - Jarrod Sammut, Brett Kearney and Jamie Langley and many more.
“It’s only game one and they were beaten, but I must say Catalan were very good. I’m expecting them to threaten the top four this year.
“You’ve got to be wary of a bounce back from Bradford, but I’m more worried about what we do. How we play is the most important thing.”