Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has been hugely impressed by a couple of the younger members of his first team squad in pre-season and is looking forward to seeing how they go against Featherstone Rovers in the first warm-up game.
Powell is pleased with the attitude of all his players in a tough pre-season training programme they have gone through since reporting back last month, but has picked out prop Will Maher and centre Greg Minikin as being particularly outstanding.
He told the Express: “I think all the players have been impressive in pre-season training. As a group they have been fantastic.
“They are working exceptionally hard from a conditioning perspective and with us on the field.
“The understanding is good. We are trying to add little bits and pieces to our game, but overall we are in a really good place.
“But if I was to pick anybody out I think a couple of the young guys have done really well. Will Maher’s had an outstanding pre-season and Greg Minikin’s looked excellent as well.
“For someone to come from a part-time environment and look as good as he has is great. Greg has done a really good job to impress everybody at the club, players and staff.
“Obviously it will be his first game for the Tigers against Featherstone and it will be an important one for him. He will want to play really well, as everyone will of course, but as it’s his first game he wants to make an impression and I think he will certainly be looking forward to it.”
Alongside Minikin in the team against Featherstone will be fellow newcomers to Castleford, Ben Crooks, Joel Monaghan, Jy Hitchcox and Ryan Hampshire and Powell is excited by the prospect of seeing how his new outside backs shape up.
He said: “I want to see where we’re at physically and see how new combinations go.
“There’s a couple of new half-backs in there. Tom Holmes is very young and had minimal experience in the first team and Ryan Hampshire will play at half-back. It will be good to see that combination.
“We’ve also got a couple of new centres in there, Ben Crooks and Greg Minikin, so it will be interesting to see how they go with the wingers. We’ve new men out wide too with Joel Monaghan and Jy Hitchcox on the wings making their debut.
“It will also be good to see where the players are at the moment. They will be up against some pretty strong players from Featherstone who are looking to start off well this year.
“They’ve got quite a few new recruits in there who will also want to show what they can do.”