Castleford Tigers star Luke Gale is back in pre-season training after his stint with the England squad and is raring to go for the new season.
Despite not getting the nod for any of the Tests against New Zealand or the warm-up against France Gale was pleased to have made the squad for the first time after his first season with the Tigers and is determined to stay in it next year and push for a starting place next time.
He said: “I was gutted not to pull on the shirt, but that was Steve McNamara’s call and he chose not to pick me.
“That disappointment won’t stop me from playing my best for the Tigers in 2016.
“After that I can then look to claiming that number seven jersey for the Four Nations.
“I’ve got to play consistency for Castleford in the league and then I can put my hand up and clinch a spot in that team.”
After joining Castleford from Bradford for the 2015 season half-back Gale enjoyed a tremendous campaign in which he scored 11 tries and kicked 101 goals. He also won the prestigious Albert Goldthorpe Medal, club awards and was included in the Dream Team.
Gale, whose deal with Castleford runs until 2017, put his success down to the way head coach Daryl Powell was able to get the best out of him.
He said: “I think Daryl was the initially reason for signing with Castleford after the impression he made on me in our first meeting.
“He gets the best out of everyone and the coaching staff around him allow you to be the best player possible, they are all great. He’s had a massive effect on me.”
Gale is now targeting team success and believes that with the new recruits adding to the squad the Tigers can compete for the top four once again.
He added: “All the boys from last year have nothing but good things to say about the new lads. I’ve trained with Rocky (Ryan Hampshire) and he looks really sharp and a really tricky player.
“They all look really good out there. I’ve played against Joel Monaghan for a number of years and he brings with him a bunch of experience, which can only help us as a team. Greg Minikin is getting a lot of praise from the lads too, he’s impressing everyone.
“I’ve only been back a few days, but there is a real buzz around the boys.
“Daryl is really happy with all of the lads and I think the team can go far this year. Our goal is to break into that top four.”
Tickets for the 2016 Magic Weekend at Newcastle’s St James’ Park are now on sale from the Tigers Den.
Castleford will play Warrington Wolves on Saturday, May 21 (kick-off 4.45pm) after Salford Red Devils have taken on Widnes Vikings (2.30pm) and before champions Leeds Rhinos meet Wigan Warriors (7pm).