Toronto Wolfpack v Castleford Tigers - Daryl Powell hoping for fast start against newly-promoted Wolfpack
THIS weekend will be the second time in four seasons that Castleford Tigers have faced a newly-promoted team on the opening day of the campaign - and head coach Daryl Powell is confident of getting a winning start against Toronto Wolfpack on Sunday.
The Tigers travel to Headingley to take on the Canadian club in their first-ever Super League outing.
Castleford swept Leigh Centurions aside in their first game of the 2017 campaign, when they went on to claim the League Leaders’ Shield and reach the Grand Final in the same year.
The Tigers have already been given a taste of what to expect on Sunday after facing the Wolfpack in Michael Shenton’s testimonial match two weeks ago.
“We have worked hard, we have trained fast,” said Powell when reflecting on Castleford’s pre-season preparations.
“I think we have trained faster this pre-season. It was something we did a little bit better in 2017, before we had a great year.
“We changed some of our training principles and we will find out where we are at. I thought some of our players looked really sharp against Toronto.”
Powell is wary of the quality possessed by big-spending Toronto, who have the likes of Gareth O’Brien, Joe Mellor and former NRL centre Ricky Leutele in their ranks.
It is unclear whether star signing Sonny Bill Williams will be included in the Wolfpack’s 21-man squad which is set to be named at 12 noon on Friday.
Powell said: “They have got good players and have been spending a fair bit of money as they have built the team the last few years.
“O’Brien, at full-back, has been in Super League. Mellor at half-back, Leutele who played in the NRL; the challenge for them will be the consistency.
“If they get some injuries they have got a smallish squad but I don’t think they have too many at the moment. They will be competitive.
“Round one is always a tough time to play the promoted team, it will be the second time we have done that.
“It will interesting to see how they handle it all.”
Powell is set to be without a number of players at Headingley, with Alex Foster and Junior Moors still recovering from injury.