THE COMING season is set to be a big one for Castleford Tigers, but recruit Scott Wheeldon is confident that will be for the right reasons.
Two teams are likely to be relegated at the end of the campaign and the pressure will be on Tigers following their 12th-place finish in 2013.
Cas, who have been relegated twice from Super League, haven’t finished in the play-offs places since 2009.
But Wheeldon reckons they will be knocking on the door of the top-eight this year, rather than worrying about the drop.
“We’ve not spoken about that at all,” he said of the potential threat of relegation.
“I don’t think it has crossed many people’s minds.
“We are all pretty confident in each other and I think if we perform to our best week in and week out we’ll give ourselves every chance to finish up towards the top-eight.
“We have got everything in place.
“We’ve got good coaching staff, so no excuses from that.
“It is just down to us to force ourselves up the ladder.”
Wheeldon is one of nine singings in Tigers’ latest squad, which includes his former London team-mates Luke Dorn and Michael Channing.
Marc Sneyd has joined Cas on a season-long loan from Salford, alongside another ex-Reds back Ashley Gibson.
Other new faces are ex-Wakefield Trinity Wildcats second-row Frankie Mariano, half-back/hooker Liam Finn from Featherstone Rovers, former Hull scrum-half Brett Seymour and prop Andy Lynch, who has rejoined Tigers after stints at Bradford Bulls and Hull.
It is a deeper squad than previous seasons and Wheeldon predicts getting into the team won’t be easy.
“There’re a lot more numbers in the forwards so there’s going to be plenty of competition for places,” he said.
“If we can keep our outside-backs fit – and playing every week – we will have a decent chance.”
Wheldon, 27, began his Super League career with hometown club Hull in 2006.
He joined Hull KR in 2009 and moved to London Broncos two years ago.
“I just wanted to move back up north, to be closer to home and family,” he said of his switch to Cas.
“My partner was a bit homesick and we both made the decision to come back.
“Cas and Daryl Powell were interested in signing me and it always helps if a coach is interested in you and thinks a bit about you, so it was a pretty easy decision to make.”
He added: “It is good to be back and I am getting settled in back up here.
“I am living in Hull, but the drive to Cas is only about 40 minutes so that’s absolutely fine. Pre-season has been pretty good and quite enjoyable.
“Obviously it has been tough, but it is pre-season and you know it is going to be hard.
“We have been mixing training up and doing a lot of different things, with the conditioner and with Daryl.
“It’s not like the same routine over and over again.
“There’s something different to look forward to.”
Wheeldon played in the Boxing Day draw with Halifax and could feature again a week on Sunday when York City Knights visit MAH Jungle.
“I have always enjoyed playing at Cas,” he said.
“It is a pretty small, old-fashioned style ground and the fans are pretty close to the pitch.
“It is always a good atmosphere.
“I am looking forward to every game, but especially to the home games.”