A NEW era for Castleford Tigers began this week with head coach Ian Millward (pictured) overseeing his first day of training.
The players reported back for pre-season on Monday with all bar four of the first team squad taking part in the first session put together by the new head coach and his equally new backroom staff.
Millward is pleased with what he has seen so far and is now looking forward to implementing his plans aimed at getting the Tigers up and running as quickly as possible for Super League 2012.
He told the Express: “It’s early stages and we’ve got a few players still in rehab from last year, but everyone’s very positive.
“I’ve been impressed with the players’ attitudes to start with and everyone‘s keen to get going.
“There will be some changes for the players. Every coach that comes in has a different routine and structure and ours probably a lot more because it’s a completely new staff the players will be working with.
“It’s going to be a long pre-season, but we’re hoping for a productive one and it’s aimed at improving our game.”
Four players – Craig Huby, Kirk Dixon, Jake Emmitt and Brett Ferres – were unable to join in with training with injuries hanging over from the end of last season, but all are progressing on the road to regaining full fitness.
Millward explained: “Craig Huby’s still got a steel plate in his knee. He’s making good progress and we’re hoping that in the next month he gets that taken out.
“Brett Ferres has had a shoulder operation, but he also may need some work on a knee so we need to get that done sooner rather than later.
“Jacob Emmitt is making very good progress on his knee. He’s had some bone bruising in there and he should start running in December. Kirk Dixon’s waiting to get the clearance on his shoulder. He hasn’t received it yet, but we’re hopeful it won’t be too long.
“But Jonathan Walker’s started training with us. He stepped out on Monday and I was impressed with the way he moved.
“Paul Jackson started on Monday and that’s another positive. Richard Mathers is okay and everyone’s making progress.”
The first team squad was joined on Monday by Rangi Chase, who took time out from his England duties to meet up with his team-mates.
After making his third international appearance against Australia at Wembley last Saturday the 2011 Man Of Steel wants to keep his place against New Zealand, the country of his birth, this Saturday at Hull’s KC Stadium, but he was keen too to be in on the start of Cas preparations, pleasing his new coach in the process.
Millward said: “Rangi Chase came in for our first training session on Monday and wanted to be involved, which is really good.
“We just hope it gives him a lot of confidence playing in the internationals.
“It’s not easy for him with England, getting used to new combinations in such a pressure situation, but the experience he gains can only help Cas.”