Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell believes his side can handle the pressure that comes with being among the bookies favourites to win the Betfred Super League crown.
Powell admits it will be a challenge for the Tigers to top last season when they ran away with the league title and fell just one win short of being crowned champions, but it is a task they are up for.
He told the Express: “I think we’re in for another exciting season.
“I think we can handle the pressure. It’s a challenge. When things are expected of you, you have to be mentally strong, but I think we’re ready for it.
“We know what we’ve got to do and our players are improving all the time.
When asked what a successful season would be for the Tigers in 2018, Powell said: “We want to get to finals and then get over the line.
“We’ve had two finals in four years and have got a taste for it. It’s just one more step we need to take.
“After winning the League Leaders’ last year it’s about taking the next step now and getting over the line in a final, which I am confident we will.
“You look at our squad and it’s deep, it’s competitive and we’ve got some young players who are coming through and who are going to put pressure on as well.
“All in all I’m really pleased where the squad’s at and I’m looking forward to it all.”
Powell is pleased with the way pre-season has gone with everyone now raring to get stuck into the new campaign.
He added: “We’ve got one session left before we get into the game and I think all the players think that’s enough, they are just ready to play now.
“Players get to a point where they are just wanting to play and we’re at that now. They are busting a gut to play.
“I think pre-season’s gone well and Lanzarote capped it off again.
“We came back and beat Leeds in a pretty tough game and I thought we defended outstandingly well.
“There’s been signs of improvement in certain areas of our game and we are just looking forward to the first Super League game now.”