Castleford Tigers may not have finished the regular season 10 points clear at the top like they did last year, but first team star Mike McMeeken reckons it has been a great achievement to end round 23 in third place given all the injuries they have had to contend with.
While other clubs have fallen by the wayside after picking up big injury lists the Tigers have maintained their challenge despite being without key men – McMeeken included – for much of the campaign so far.
“We’ve been without Galey for a big chunk of it and he is a key player for us,” said McMeeken.
“A lot of teams have had that as well – Wigan have been without the likes of George Williams for the last six weeks or so – and other teams have suffered as well.
“But we’ve got ourselves in a good position and the squad’s really shown how good we are.
“We didn’t start off the greatest, but to get ourselves into third position come the end of the regular season was a massive achievement for us and we’re really proud of where we’ve finished.
“Obviously we’re not 10 points clear at the top, but going forward it’s a strong position and we’re looking to build form for the semi-finals. We have to make sure we are on our game every week. You can’t have a game off.
“With the teams in the Super 8s this year I don’t think there’s any easy games.
“Huddersfield are on great form and Catalans showed how good they are last week.
“Every one’s a tough game and you go into every week having to expect a big performance from yourselves.”
McMeeken made his comeback from knee and hamstring injuries when Cas won at Widnes in the final round of the regular season and is building his match sharpness back up.
He explained: “It has been a bit frustrating with the injury.
“Everyone picks up injuries, it’s just how I bounce back from it. I am looking to improve myself each week and get myself into good form towards the back end of the Super 8s.
“They looked after me when I came back against Widnes. I only played about 60 minutes so I got a bit of game time, which is what I needed before the break.
“This week we’ve been working hard on the field and that’s helped me again so it’s just a case of making sure I keep on improving each week. The injury’s all good now so I’m just looking forward to kicking on.”