HE HAD an outstanding debut season in the top-flight, but Castleford Tigers’ highly-rated youngster Greg Minikin admits he isn’t certain of a place this year.
Minikin stepped up to the plate after captain Michael Shenton was injured in Tigers’ opening Super League game of 2016 and went on to score six tries in 17 senior appearances.
But with Shenton now back to fitness and Jake Webster in pole position for the other centre spot, Minikin reckons he may have to play a waiting game.
The 21-year-old Wetherby Bulldogs product, who can also play on the wing, says form last year will count for nothing, but reckons he is in the ideal place to learn and develop his game with Shenton and Webster as his mentors.
“I played a lot more games than I expected, with Shenny getting injured,” Minikin said of his first campaign at full-time level.
“I did okay – and now it’s time to kick on and see if I can top it.
“There’s extra competition, Shenny is always going to be in the team.
“He’s a class player, but it makes me train harder to try and get back in the team.
“The things I can learn off Shenny when he’s playing and training are amazing.”
Minikin admitted stepping up from a part-time environment at York City Knights was tough.
He cut his teeth playing in front of crowds of a few hundred in League One – against opposition including Oxford, Coventry and Gloucester – but feels he has now bridged the gap.
He said: “I struggled at first, but I think I developed quite well.
“The coaching staff here’s helped a lot.
“The technical stuff’s very good and with the likes of Michael Shenton and Jamie Webster helping me out I’ve come on and it has been really good.”
Minikin also played seven games on dual-registration for Batley Bulldogs last term, scoring four tries.
Continuing the learning process in the Kingstone Press Championship is an option for 2017, but he is hoping to spend most – if not all – of the year with Tigers.
Of his goals for 2017, Minikin said: “I’d like to get the same number of games as last year, or more. It might be difficult, but you have to aim high.
“I got the chance last year and managed to stay in the team so I’d like to do the same.”
Tigers are also reaching for the stars, with the top four in Betfred Super League a first objective.
Though Luke Dorn has retired, they have added to the backline with Greg Eden returning to the club from Brisbane Broncos and former Man of Steel Zak Hardaker joining from Leeds Rhinos on a season-long loan.
With big things expected of recruit Jesse Sene-Lefao up front and Shenton, Ben Roberts and Andy Lynch available after long-term injury, Minikin reckons Tigers’ prospects are bright.
“We’ve got some quality players in this team,” he said.
“The players that’ve been brought in are only going to add to that, so we definitely want to be in the top four.
“The squad is definitely stronger now, we have definitely added to it.”