Star signing Richard Mathers is optimistic he will be fit for Castleford Tigers' next trial game – and his first appearance has filled him with confidence about the season ahead.
Mathers played just 18 minutes of the 62-10 demolition of York City Knights two days ago, before being substituted due to a hand injury.
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He literally had a grandstand seat as Tigers' teenagers tore the newly-promoted Co-op Championship side apart, running in 11 tries.
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The injury was a setback, but Mathers is hoping to line-up against Batley Bulldogs at Probiz Coliseum on Sunday, January 23.
Tigers have another trial game lined up away to York this Sunday, but coach Terry Matterson plans to field a reserve side.
Explaining his injury, Mathers – the former Leeds, Wigan and Warrington full-back – said: "I just hyper-extended my wrist.
"I got tackled and all his weight landed on it.
"It went numb for a good 10 minutes and I thought it was a bit more serious than it was. I wanted to strap it back up and stay on, but Terry and the medical staff were probably being over-cautious, with it being the first trial.
"There was no need to push it too far. It feels a bit sore, but I'm sure it's nothing too bad. I was happy to go back on, but they kept me off and told me to go and get a shower."
Mathers has been with Tigers since the start of pre-season training and he said: "It has been good.
"We have worked really hard in pre-season and on Sunday some of the things we've been working on, especially in defence, worked well.
"They scored two tries, both off kicks and I think in the main our defence was really solid. Things we have been practising in attack came off as well and I think the really encouraging thing was that all the senior players were off from half-time, we had all the young kids on there and I thought they were outstanding.
"It is just about building for us at the moment. The plan was for the senior players to play 40 minutes and then we've got another two games, against Batley and Hull, to get ready for the season."
Last weekend's side included Joe Arundel, Jordan Thompson, Jonathan Walker, Oliver Holmes, John Davies and Adam Milner, who all broke into Tigers' first team last year.
Mathers believes players on senior duty for the first time against York can follow in their footsteps.
"The great thing about pre-season training is all the young lads who show potential get to train with the first team," he stated.
"Just being in that environment helps bring them along and they have absolutely been training the house down.
"To see them in action on Sunday was really warming. This year we've got a really strong squad and I believe the depth is a lot greater than last year.
"There's always one or two who get a chance and from what I saw the other day, I think they'll do really well.
"I don't think Terry would have any hesitation in throwing them in."
Mathers was one of four recruits in Sunday's team, alongside winger Nick Youngquest, scrum-half Danny Orr and prop Jacob Emmitt.
Orr partnered Rangi Chase in the halves and, according to Mathers, that is an exciting prospect for the year ahead.
"I only had 20 minutes, but the one/six/seven and nine combination is important," he said. "We have been working hard on that.
"Danny's back and he adds a bit of direction. Rangi is a genius, whereas Danny will lead us around the park.
"They really complement each other and Ryan Hudson and Adam Milner are two really smart players at hooker.
"That's really important. Games like Sunday and the next two friendlies are all about getting that cohesion together, more so after the bad winter we've had.
"We haven't really been able to get out on the field too much and there's nothing like putting things into practice against tough opposition.
"Even though the scoreline blew out at the end York were really spirited and put some decent defence in.
"They were physical as well and at this stage of pre-season it was
exactly what we needed."