Head coach Daryl Powell has told Castleford Tigers fans that their team could be on the verge of “something special” in the coming years.
The Tigers boss acknowledged some improvements will have to be made if the Tigers are to improve on their fifth place finish in 2016, but he reckons that the way they played this year in the face of adversity shows they are not far away given a better run with injuries.
He said: “If you look at the last three years we’ve been fourth, fifth and fifth so for us now we’re sat right on the precipice of something special at the club.
“This year’s been incredibly tough for all sorts of reasons. The players have had to really dig in because of the injury list.
“I think it’s been a phenomenal achievement for us to finish fifth.
“We’re pleased, but we’re about more than that now, we’re about rising and aiming for something special.
“We’re proud of being called ‘classy Cas’. We’ve got a lot of high quality players who buy into the way we play the game.
“We’re going to be better and we are going to be going after every single team we play against.”
The Tigers have learned a number of lessons from the 2016 season, according to Powell.
He said: “There’s a little bit of what might have been.
“There’s been some games where we’ve just not been at our standards and could easily have got two points, but the fact of the matter is that we didn’t.
“Even right at the start, we drew a game at Hull KR to the last kick of the game.
“We’ve lost by some big scores at home and we lost to Salford, Widnes and Hull KR at home – this should not be happening.
“We’re a team now that sets such high standards that those sort of results can’t happen. We have to make this our fortress.
“We always talk about this and it’s a well trodden phrase making your home a fortress, but we truly have to do that.
“We know we can go away and win at different joints. So for me it’s about pulling it all together next year.
“Some of our players have to change. We’ve got to be better, tougher, stiffer, more mentally durable when we haven’t got the ball in our hands.
“Clearly we can score points – we have been doing that for three years straight without any real stress.
“There’s a challenge there in replacing Luke Dorn, but the big key for me is sorting our defence out. If we do that then the world’s our oyster.”
Powell added to the praise for the departing Dorn, who enjoyed an outstanding final season before retiring and accepted he would be hard to replace.
He added: “Luke Dorn’s been incredible.
“”He’s played outstandingly well for us for three years and I can’t speak highly enough of him. What he’s added to the team, to the club, his leadership, his attacking play in particular is sublime and his understanding of the game is excellent.
“We wish him all the best for what he’s going to do in the future.
“Luke’s been exceptional for three years. His consistency as a player has been fantastic and his ability with the ball has been a massive, massive strength. He’s been such an outstanding attacking rugby league full-back who understands the game well and can get where he needs to be whenever he needs to for the team.
“He’s going to be missed. We can’t replace him like for like so you’ve got to do something different and I think we’re really good at that.
“We’re good at tweaking their game to our personnel and we’ll work hard to do it.”