Castleford boss Powell: We’re looking pretty strong for next year

Mike McMeeken: Successful first season with Castleford Tigers.
Mike McMeeken: Successful first season with Castleford Tigers.

Castleford Tigers are staying tight lipped on any further additions for next season, but head coach Daryl Powell will be happy if the club’s recruitment is as successful as this year’s.

Powell had to overhaul the squad at the end of last season with the loss of several key players, but he has been largely pleased with the results with Luke Gale, Ben Roberts, Junior Moors, Mike McMeeken, Denny Solomona and Matt Cook in particular enjoying a strong first year with the Tigers.

“I think our recruitment’s been pretty good,” said Powell.

“At times we’ve had to kick on a little bit with a few players, but they’ve responded in the right way and we’ve been really pleased with our recruitment.

“Luke Gale started slowly, but has grown significantly as a player and as a leader within the group. He’s been consistently outstanding for us.

“People like Benny Roberts and Junior Moors took a while to settle in, but they’ve really started to come to the fore. Benny started to play well in the halves, which he struggled to do earlier in the season.

“Denny Solomona’s not been on the field as much as we’ve wanted this year, he’s had a few too many injuries. He’s got a couple of things he needs to change to tidy himself up, but you show him the try-line and, phew, he’s pretty sharp. It’s what I thought we’d get from him.

“Mike McMeeken has advanced a little bit quicker than I thought he would.

“Frankie Mariano’s injury has helped him as it meant he got a consistent run in the team.

“His confidence wasn’t all that great when he started with us, but he’s grown. He was 96 kilos, but he’s 106 now and you can see him growing to be an incredibly big human being, if he’s not already.

“There’s two players there who’ve been awesome for us since coming in.”

The Cas boss does not think he has to do so much strengthening this time round, but he has brought in centres Ben Crooks and Greg Minikin, who will join up with their new Castleford team-mates when they report back for training next month.

Other new recruits – hooker Paul McShane and prop Gadwin Springer – are already established after being allowed to team up with the Tigers ahead of next season when it was originally intended they would join.

But despite speculation no more names have been confirmed, nor any further departures following the already announced exits of Scott Wheeldon, Ryan Bailey, Ashley Gibson, Michael Channing and Brandon Moore.

On the recruitment already made for 2016, Powell said: “For next year there’s a few players with a fair bit of potential about them.

“Ben Crooks everyone knows about. He’s been out in Australia and if he can reproduce the form he showed previously then he’s going to be something special on the end of our half-backs.

“We’ve got two new recruits in who’ve already played with us this year so they should be good straight away.

“And we’ve got a couple of new faces that hopefully will add to us as well.

“I think we’re looking pretty strong for next year.”

Whoever is in the team next year Powell wants to see some improvement, particularly with the way the players handle adversity in matches.

He added: “We’ve got to deal with situations better and there’s going to be some things in there in pre-season designed to help us do that.

“When we went down to 12 men against Huddersfield we just collapsed and we have to be better dealing with tough things like this that happen.

“For me it’s taking that next step now and the players that come in need to help us take that next step.

“We are always asking players to strive to improve and if you get that on a yearly basis then you are better the year after and that’s the most important thing.”