Castleford Tigers players are chomping at the bit and cannot wait to get cracking in the 2017 Betfred Super League season according to their head coach.
Daryl Powell says the players are eager to show what they have been working on in pre-season training and have been ready to go since they returned from their warm weather camp in Lanzarote.
He said: “The boys are excited to get playing.
“There’s only so much you can do in pre-season before you are ready to play.
“Everybody’s worked hard and played well pretty much in the pre-season games.
“The first half against Wakefield and the St Helens game were two real marker games and we did really well in them. In that game-and-a-half it showed that we are ready really.
“You can sense that the players are ready. You can see where they’re at and they are busting a gut to play. That’s been the case since we came back from Lanzarote.
“The game at St Helens was everything we needed. The manner of the performance was what we were looking for, particularly defensively. I thought we did some smart things with the ball, but defensively we were really durable.
“The try we conceded wasn’t one as Greg Eden had his foot on the line as he batted it back trying to stop a 40-20.
“I’m really pleased with where this group of players are at.”
Powell admits he has been talking his team up ahead of the new season, but is convinced they are capable of achieving some big things.
He added: “I’ve been talking like this since 2014. I’ve always been talking this team and club up because I think there is something special happening.
“There’s a maturity now that’s developing within the team so I think they can handle the pressure of different games.
“There’s a pressure to every game whether you are playing somebody you are expected to beat or whether you are expecting a real tight tussle.
“Top four and the play-offs at the end of the season has to be what we’re aiming for.
“We’ve spoken about that for a few years and I think we’re capable of it, but words don’t mean anything, it’s about what you do out on the field and having a consistency about you.
“You have to get in the top eight as a minimum, but we left ourselves a bit too much to do to reach the play-offs last year so the consistency of what we do has to be the key.
“Our home form is really important. We didn’t do as well as we would have liked at home last year and it puts too much pressure on you when you don’t.”