Powell Pleased with 2019 preparations
Posted: Friday 1st February 2019 - 11:17 AM
With the 2019 season just hours away for Castleford, coach Daryl Powell is aware of what a hot start could mean for the Tigers.
In 2018, Castleford tumbled against a strong St. Helens side in similar chilly conditions to the ones that will welcome them come kick off this year. Despite the disappointing start, the Tigers claimed third place in Super League and a semi-final berth, showing that a win in round one does not define a team’s season.
Powell wants to build confidence in not only his team but in the fans that turn up week in week out to support the players early in 2019: “It’s not disastrous if you don’t start well but it helps. We’re at home to begin with and we will obviously want to win this game. Clearly we’re a pretty competitive team and we want to play well. I’d like to see us get out of the blocks pretty quick. I think it builds confidence not only within the team but throughout the club and the fans so we want to build that. We want to have a good feel about the place when we are rocking up to play. We didn’t get a great start last year and we were still in and around the top end so it isn’t the be all and end all but I’d much rather see us win this game and give ourselves a good start.”
With the Tigers stumbling in important games over the past two seasons, Powell and the rest of his coaching staff have been working tirelessly to prepare the players for the new season and while other teams have looked to improve via new additions, Castleford are looking for consistency and stability to help them kick on.
“2017 was a stand out year for us and we were in great shape then and we felt like we had a great pre-season then,” Powell said as he compared 2019’s pre-season to the past couple of years.
“We didn’t quite hit that level in 2018 but this year I think we’re in a good place. We’ve had a lot of players that have had outstanding pre-seasons, probably the best pre-seasons of their careers. From that regard we’re in great shape. You look around the league and some of the teams have recruited pretty heavily, whether recruitment beats stability we’ll have to find out but I’m confident that what we have in our group of players is a really good mix and they’ve got an ability to be an outstanding rugby league team.”
To begin the 2019 season, the Tigers welcome Catalans Dragons to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle. The Dragons broke the mould in 2018 becoming the first French side to win the Coral Challenge Cup. Already boasting a talent roster of players, the French team added England internationals Sam Tomkins and Matty Smith to their team.
“Tomkins is a big signing for them and although I thought Josh Drinkwater was great for them last year, Matty Smith gives them a really good long kicking game,” Powell claimed as he sized up the challenge ahead of his team in round one of the new season. “ Sam Tomkins gives them a lot of experience and he’s reinvented himself as a player and doing pretty well. They had a good squad anyway. They’re a big physical side. Losing Greg Bird in the lead up to this game is a bit of a blow for them but it’s the same as ourselves you just have to crack on with it, there isn’t a lot you can do about it.”
The new season poses a lot of different challenges for the Tigers. New exciting signings as well as a new team with London Broncos earning promotion back to Super League for the first time since 2014.
In Castleford’s first four games alone each team has its own motivations to turn over the Tigers:“It’s always hard at the start of a new season because teams always look different from year to year,” Powell said. “ In our first four games we play Catalans, who really rose to prominence last year after winning the Challenge Cup, then we have Hull FC who have huge motivation after a poor 2018 compared to their standards followed by a promoted side in London away from home. Then we play Hull KR, who have recruited pretty well.
“It’s a little bit different when you look at the fixture list this year because you have the loop fixtures which I’m not a big fan of. You can’t worry about the fixture list too much at some point in the season you have to play every team home and away, sometimes twice away or home now. I don’t think it should worry us too much. We just have to perform and be as consistent as we have been over the last two years. We looked at some stats earlier on in the pre-season and we’ve won 75 per cent of our regular round games in the past two seasons which is better than any other side so we’ll be reasonably happy if we can do that again.”
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