After making false starts in the last two seasons, Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell has spoken about the importance of getting the 2017 season off to a flyer tonight.
The Tigers could only draw with eventually relegated Hull KR last year in their first game and in 2015 they lost at home to a Wakefield Trinity team that finished bottom.
Now they face newly promoted Leigh Centurions at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle with Powell emphasising the significance of putting down an immediate marker for the season.
He said: “It’s a really important game. The start to the season is crucial and the last thing you want is to get off to a tough start.
“To be fair in the last two years we have done, the opening game hasn’t been the best so it’s a key game for us.
“We’ve not really spoken about the last two years because other seasons don’t matter do they?
“It’s a different mentality with this team and all I’m interested in is where we’re at now.
“I think we’re in a good place.
“At the moment I don’t feel like I need to do too much coaching, we’re ready.
“You put everything out there and you tweak it as you go through the season, but at this point the boys just look like they know what they’re doing and they can deal with different situations.
“We will see how face up to the challenges, but I believe that since we got back from Lanzarote and beat St Helens everything now is a focus on getting out there and showing what we can do.”
Powell is expecting a cracking contest with Leigh.
He said: “It will be buzzing down here.
“They’re going to bring a lot over, there’s a neutral interest to it obviously with them being a promoted team and it should be absolutely buzzing out there. We’ll feed off that and enjoy the game.
“It’s going to be interesting. They are going to be coming here throwing everything at us so we will have to ride what they throw at us and hopefully go back at them with a little bit more.
“It will certainly be a tough game, we know that.”
Two of Castleford’s players from last year could be in the Leigh team with Ben Crooks going on loan to the Centurions and Ryan Hampshire signing for them.
Powell added: “Ryan Hampshire and Ben Crooks could be in the Leigh team. I don’t know whether they will play, but there is a little bit of inside knowledge, which is always helpful for the opposition.
“However, it’s all right knowing what a team’s going to do, it’s dealing with it that’s the key.
“I’m confident that our attacking game can look after itself, I’m more interested in the other side of the ledger and making sure we do a great job defensively. I think we will, everything I’ve seen so far is a confidence that we’ve got what it takes to do well this year.”