Boxing Day talking points
Posted: Friday 20th December 2019 - 4:28 PM
With the first pre-season friendly coming up next week, we take a look at some talking points for the Boxing Day clash with the Bulls.
Tickets for the game at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Thursday, 26th December (11am) are available in retail stores now priced at £15 adults and £10 concessions.
For the Tigers, the game marks the first taste of competition action ahead of the 2020 campaign, with further fixtures to come against Widnes and Toronto, and head coach Daryl Powell will be eager for his players to make an early impression.
Here, we take a look at some potential talking points ahead of the Bulls fixture and the club’s pre-season schedule as a whole …
The Tigers have named new signings Danny Richardson, Derrell Olpherts and Tyla Hepi in the 24-man squad for the game against the Bulls.
Richardson and Olpherts will line up on Cas' right flank alongside Pete Mata'utia and Jesse Sene-Lefao whilst Hepi has been earmarked at prop for the festive clash.
Elsewhere, several promising young players will be given the chance to impress and stake a claim for a place in the side for Round 1 against the Wolfpack.
Rankin role …
Along with the five new signings, Jordan Rankin has signed a new one-year contract with the Tigers from Huddersfield Giants.
Rankin arrived at the club on the eve of Super League this year and had only a few weeks in January to link up with his new teammates. This time round, the Australian playmaker has been in pre-season training from day one and looks set to be Powell’s first choice full back to start 2020 after excelling in the position late last season.
However, Rankin is a more than useful half back as well and he could well pop up in that position during the friendlies as the Tigers coaching staff test their options.
Winging it …
Whilst there’s strength in depth across the squad this season, the battle for places on the wing looks to be particularly fierce with the Tigers blessed for options out wide.
In terms of try-scoring ability, Greg Eden’s record for the Tigers speaks for itself and the prolific finisher remains a strong option for the Tigers on the flank alongside last year’s Players’ Player of the Year runner up and top try-scorer James Clare.
New signings Sosaia Feki and Derrell Olpherts bring added power and ball carrying ability from backfield – not to mention more than handy scoring records of their own – whilst youngster Lewis Carr has a reputation as being the quickest player in the squad and has another year of experience in the academy under his belt.
Expect Powell to give all five players a run out in pre-season as they fight it out.
Back row battle
The back row is another position where Powell is blessed for options and there’ll be some quality players missing out on selection when the Betfred Super League comes around.
Mike McMeeken, Jesse Sene-Lefao and Oliver Holmes finished the 2019 campaign as Powell’s first choice players in the second row but with the latter two also able to play through the middle – and new signings George Griffin and Tyla Hepi joining the likes of Nathan Massey and Adam Milner as loose forward options – there’s some tough decisions to be made.
Foster will also be entering the contest on his return from injury making strong performances in pre-season a necessity for any player hoping to feature at the back of the pack.
The Tigers changed their model for pre-season this year with a switch in emphasis to more skills, in-game conditioning and decision making.
Whilst last year’s focus on defence paid dividends – particularly in the early stages of the year – 12 months on and Cas now operate differently after a change midway through 2019.
The early signs are extremely encouraging with the players embracing the new challenge since returning to The Jungle in mid-November but Powell and his squad will be eager to see this transformed into a strong display against the Bulls, along with a return to their free-flowing rugby league, festive weather permitting of course.
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