While admitting the opening game at St Helens represents a big early challenge Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton believes his team are raring to go in their opening game tomorrow night.
The Tigers have not won away against St Helens since 1992, but are not lacking confidence that they can end their hoodoo.
“It’s a big game and a good indicator of where we’re at,” said skipper Shenton.
“It’s not the be-all and end-all, but it’s all we are focused on now.
“It’s one game at a time and that’s the next one. We know they’ll be playing well and they will definitely be a big threat with the ball and they’ve always got great intensity. We know it’s a big challenge, but I think we’re fresh and raring to go.”
Shenton is hoping for more big nights like last year when as captain he lifted the League Leaders’ Shield and reckons the players are hungry to follow up on 2017.
He said: “I was very honoured to lift the League Leaders’ Shield for the first time for Castleford.
“It was a great moment for us and hopefully we can get plenty more moments like that.
“I think once you get a good feeling for it and you get a feel for those big games and that little taste of silverware we got last year as well, you get hungry for more.
“We don’t want to be a team that people say ‘oh they had a good year that year’, we want to back that up. We want to know this group of players is good enough to be challenging for a long time.”
Shenton says pre-season has gone well for the club and they got a little bonus with some youngsters stepping up while the Tigers were waiting for their World Cup players to return to training.
He added: “While the international guys were away it’s great that some of the younger guys have come in and had a real good look at it, especially someone like Jake Trueman who everyone is excited about and rightly so - he’s had a really good pre-season.
“Just to fill in while Luke’s been away he’s been great.
“It’s great to see the young guys coming through and it’s important that some of the guys have had a look at some of these important positions because you never know what adversity you are going to face in a season when something might happen.
“Jake got thrown in late last year and did a great job, probably the best debut I’ve ever seen!
“So that will help us in the year that the young boys have been given a chance in training.”