The importance of having a strong squad has been emphasised already by Castleford Tigers as they coped with the loss of skipper Michael Shenton and experienced winger Joel Monaghan in the first three weeks of the new Super League season.
Castleford boss Daryl Powell has been pleased with the way players are stepping in so far this season with Jake Webster and Ben Crooks in good form at centre in Shenton’s absence and Jy Hitchcox enjoying a successful debut when scoring two tries against Hull despite only finding out late on that he would be needed to replace Monaghan.
The Tigers boss admitted Hitchcox’s performance has given him a nice selection problem for this week’s game against St Helens and wants others to follow his example when asked to step in during the season.
He told the Express: “I expect players to make it hard for me to select the team throughout the year.
“I think that the players who are going to come in are going to go well. We’ve seen that they practice well.
“There hasn’t been too much change in the team so far, it’s gone okay as a unit. But when people come in – and we’ve got Easter coming up – we’re going to need all hands on deck. We’re going to need the guys coming in to play well.”
Building the squad up has been a crucial part of Powell’s planning to turn Castleford’s fortunes around since he came in as head coach.
He said: “It’s a big part of what we’ve done over the last couple of years.
“We’ve worked hard on building a squad that’s capable, signing the right type of people that can slot in.
“There’s a few of them that have shown some patience as well.
“There’s going to be times when you don’t play when you’ve got a big squad, but there’s a lot of patience there and resilience and it really helps you when you’ve got a long season with a lot of games ahead.”