Castleford Tigers’ injured players are all progressing well with head coach Daryl Powell hoping he will soon have every member of his first team squad in full training.
A number of players have been recovering from operations undertaken during the off-season or in the latter part of the last campaign, but they are well on the mend and expected to be there or thereabouts to be ready for the big kick-off in February.
Cas boss Powell explained: “All the players who have been on adjusted training are all doing well.
“Andy Lynch and Ryan Boyle are pretty much back in with everything now. They had hand and wrist operations, which are difficult to get right when you are in a contact sport, but they are just about back in.
“Nathan Massey’s not too far away and Frankie Mariano is coming on nicely. He’s a little bit behind because he had a little bit of a setback with his knee, but he is getting closer.
“We are not too far away from having everybody in full training and that will obviously be great for us.
“The adjusted training is still pretty tough, but it’s not out on the field with the players.
“It’s needed when players are recovering from operations. The off-season is always a time when you have operations when they are needed so there’s always a recognition that this is going to happen every year.”
Powell is looking forward to having strong running second rower Mariano back in his team and reckons his presence and that of fellow forward Lee Jewitt will be like having new signings in the side after they missed so much of the last campaign.
He said: “With Frank and Lee back it will certainly feel like we will have two new players.
“They played minimal game time last season and they will be looking forward to hopefully having a season with less drama.”
Powell believes the players will reap the benefits of an improved pre-season when they get going for real in February.
He said: “We’ve got some new outside backs, but there’s not as many changes as last year when we had nine or 10 and it makes this pre-season a bit easier.
“In some ways we’ve been better as a coaching staff right at the start as well in terms of what we’ve delivered and what we’ve put in place for the pre-season.
“The players are reaping the rewards and really enjoying what they’re doing and it’s tough as well.
“It needs to be tough, but sometimes it’s about putting players in a different place. They’re used to going in the gym and lifting metal weights all the time so sometimes you do things a bit different to be stimulating.
“I work together with conditioner Ben Cooper. I’ve got my own ideas on certain things and I trust him to do his job.
“We’ve got a great coaching staff who are all open minded in terms of moving forward and improving. Ben will tell me what he wants to do, if I think there’s a little bit of a tweak in there we’ll talk about it.
“Similarly some of the things that we’re doing, particularly towards the end of the season when you are overworking the players a bit at times he’s a real good monitor in terms of where the players are at.
“There’s a real good working relationship between us all.
“We’ve got an outstanding physio in Matty Crowther, our coaching staff are all interlinked and communicating all the time.”
One of the things the Tigers are doing differently this time is going abroad for warm weather training early next month.
Powell added: “We are going to Lanzarote this time.
“The last two years we’ve been to the Marines, which was great for us I thought, and we went to North Yorkshire last year, which I didn’t think was so great for us. This year’s a bit different.
“The players have been really good the last two years and it’s a bit of a reward for them and a little bit of added professionalism of where we’re at as a club and a team – we want to take that next step.”