MAJOR signing Richard Mathers did not make the start he hoped for in a Castleford Tigers shirt when injury forced him off the field less than 20 minutes into his debut against York - but he has reassured fans that there is nothing to worry about regarding his fitness.
The former Warrington, Wigan and Leeds full-back (pictured) is expected to be a key figure this year as the Tigers aim to improve on last season’s ninth place finish in Super League so no risks were going to be taken with him in his first pre-season game.
Mathers explained that a York player landed on his hand after making a tackle during the first half of Sunday’s opening game at the Probiz Coliseum, causing his wrist to swell.
He wanted to carry on, but was taken off immediately as a precautionary measure to make sure no further damage was done.
“The plan was to play 40 minutes, but I had to come off early because I picked up the injury. It went numb for a while, but It’s just a bit swollen and should be all right,” said Mathers.
“I wanted to stay on and have it strapped up, but the coaching and medical staff were being cautious. They were probably right and although I was adamant I wanted to stay on I got told in no uncertain terms to come off.
“It’s fine now and I’m sure it’s nothing too bad, but I don’t want to be doing any serious damage in the trials. It was all about getting a run out there and building for the new season.
“It was great to get out and put into practice what we’ve been working on pre-season. The plan was always to play the senior players for the first half and it worked out well, it was a good first game.”
Mathers was impressed with his new team-mates and felt there was a lot of promise in the display considering it was the first pre-season game and it came after difficulties in training caused by the prolonged cold weather.
He added: “I thought there were some really good performances, especially in the second half.
“The young lads showed great potential and I don’t think Terry (Matterson) would have any hesitation throwing them in.
“We won’t get carried away with ourselves, but the game served its purpose well. It was a glorified training run if you like, but we got some good performances out of it. There’s no serious injuries and that’s what you want.
“For myself and all the players it’s the first time we’ve played in four months and you can do all the pre-season training and fitness work you like, but actually getting out there in a match situation against opposition who were really spirited serves as a really good training tool and helps build us up for the season.
“It has been really tough with the weather in terms of getting out onto fields and practising so these games are going to be really important.
“Last week we managed to get a few sessions in and we’ve made the best of the facilities we have, but everyone’s been hamstrung by the weather. It’s not ideal, that’s why we needed to arrange the York match and use it as a training tool. Everybody involved from our end is really pleased with it and got a lot out of it
“This was the first game and I’m sure we’ll build up against Batley and then get right into it for the Hull game. People will play more game time and try and get that cohesion, both in attack and defence - then it’s all eyes on the opening weekend.”