CASTLEFORD TIGERS coach Daryl Powell is looking ahead rather than dwelling on what might have been going into tonight’s final game of the season at Wigan Warriors.
Tigers will finish fifth, one place outside the First Utility Super League play-offs, but Powell reckons they have done themselves proud this term.
And he said preparations for next year begin now.
“There’s no point looking back,” Powell said of Tigers’ near-miss.
“There’s been things all the way through the season that haven’t quite gone our way, going right back to the first game against Wakefield when we were well in front and lost.
“We’ve been really good for long periods, but just haven’t been good enough so there’s no point with the ifs, buts and maybes.
“We’ve been inside the top-five teams for two seasons running now and we have to take the next step.
“Overall, it has been a really strong season and we’ve seen a number of players improve and get better, which is what you want from a coaching perspective.
“But we have got to be a little bit edgier the way we go about our game, particularly in defence.
“I think we’re a top-five team and have got to make some changes to be top four. Hopefully we can be a genuine top-four team next year.”
Wigan need to win tonight to secure a home semi-final and they will finish top if they claim maximum points and Leeds lose at Huddersfield Giants.
Powell said: “We played them at home and were way too good for them. They will be bristling, they don’t like to get beat and see that as a real challenge the next time they come up against the opposition who have beaten them.
“They are fighting for the top of the pile, too. We know they will be highly motivated, but I said to our guys it’s a key game for us.
“It may seem we have nothing to play for, but we have. This is us looking to make that change to a top-four team now – not waiting until next year.”
Tigers will be without centre and captain Michael Shenton, due to a knee injury.
Ryan Boyle is also out from the team which won at Leeds eight days ago
Michael Channing, Liam Finn, Ash Robson and Gadwin Springer are all in contention for a call-up.
Centre Channing and winger Ashley Gibson are both set to make their final appearance for the club after Powell revealed they will not be kept on next season.
England academy hooker and Tigers under-19s player of the year Brandon Moore is also leaving after not being offered a deal for 2016 and prop Scott Wheeldon had already been told he would not be retained.
Dom Manfredi, Connor Farrell and Liam Farrell could return for Wigan, with Anthony Gelling dropping out from the team beaten at St Helens last week.
Wigan Warriors: from Bateman, Bowen, Burgess, Charnley, Clubb, Crosby, C Farrell, L Farrell, Flower, Gildart, Manfredi, McIlorum, Mossop, O’Loughlin, Patrick, Powell, Smith, Tomkins, Williams.
Castleford Tigers: from Dorn, Roberts, Gale, Lynch, Milner, Millington, O Holmes, Cook, Moors, Wheeldon, Solomona, Finn, Channing, McMeeken, Gibson, Robson, Maher, Springer, McShane.
Referee: Phil Bentham (Warrington).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.