Castleford Tigers star Oliver Holmes believes all the injuries suffered at the club this year can be turned into a positive for next season.
Back rower Holmes is one of the many players to have suffered from injury this year, having missed more games than he has been able to play in 2016, but having returned to the first team in recent weeks he can see benefits from the Tigers having to use more players than they would have originally aimed to do.
He told the Express: “It’s been difficult, but there’s some positives to come out it with the amount of young players who have got experience.
“That will stand them in good stead for future seasons, especially next year.
“The game time the likes of Greg Minikin, Will Maher and Tom Holmes have had can only be good and they have played more games than they probably would have without those injuries.
“The squad strength has improved through it and that’s credit to Powelly and his recruitment at the end of last year.
“He’s built a squad that’s capable to drop people in when needed wherever and do a job.
“There’s been times when it’s not gone too well for us this year, but I think that comes down to a lack of leaders on the field at certain points.
“We’ve missed big players and a lot of us have had to stand up and become leaders and really take that role in. Again, that’s going to stand us in good stead for years to come.
“Hopefully next year we’ll have a fair few leaders and experienced players out on that pitch, hopefully staying fit.”
Holmes was pleased to have been part of a Cas team that produced an impressive display to beat leaders Hull last Friday, keeping alive hopes of a top four finish.
He said: “It definitely showed what we can do and we just have to be consistent and play like this every week now.
“We’ve not got many games left this year and we want to be as consistent and play as well as we can to finish the year strongly.
“We’ve spoken about still reaching the top four, but it may get taken out of our hands with other fixtures. Obviously we need a few of them to go in our favour.
“It might be difficult the way Saints are playing right now, they’re looking good and don’t look like dropping many points. Catalans also managed to pick up a win last weekend against Widnes.
“But if we can keep winning you never know. All we can do is take each game as it comes and get as many wins as possible. If we can get into that top four then it would be fantastic.
“It’s out of our hands, but hopefully the man above will send a few results our way.”
Cas are back at home this week when they take on Wigan, looking to improve a run that has seen them win only one of their last seven Super League games at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. Holmes is mystified as to what has happened to the home form.
He added: “I’m not sure quite what’s gone on.
“It’s usually a tough place to come is Cas and we usually manage to get the win down here, but it’s not been that way this year.
“I don’t know any reason behind it, but we’ll be looking to put that right against Wigan and in the remaining two home games in the Super 8s.”
More from Oliver Holmes in Thursday’s edition of the Pontefract & Castleford Express.