LOCAL HERO Andy Lynch is delighted to be back at his hometown club – and is convinced Castleford Tigers can make an impression in First Utility Super League this year.
“Pre-season has been great,” said Lynch, who played for Tigers from 1999-2004 before spells at Bradford Bulls and Hull.
“It has been really tough and hard, but everyone has pulled together.”
Tigers sent shockwaves through their rivals with a 66-10 pre-season drubbing of Bradford Bulls – their opening league opponents – three days ago, which was a reward for the hard work put in since the players began training last autumn.
“We had a week down in Devon, at an Army camp and I thought that brought us together,” said Lynch.
“When we are on the field and times are tough we’ll look back at what we did on the Army camp and it will pull us through, all being well.
“We want to play week-in, week-out at a high level of consistency and if we do that we’ll be a threat every week and we’ll have no problems at all this year.
“I could even see us being in that top-eight.”
The romp at Bradford – which saw Tigers run in 12 tries, including a hat-trick by Kirk Dixon – disproved one concern about Cas, that they would struggle for points following former Man of Steel Rangi Chase’s departure to Salford Red Devils.
They scored 62 in their previous game, against Championship One side York and Lynch added: “We know Cas can score points, but we know we have got to work harder in defence.
“If we can do that and take it into the season we will hit the ground running.
“We’ve got a team of grafters. There’s no superstars, no one stands out, but if everyone works together I think you will see some good stuff.
“The more we can do that, the more often we’ll come up with the two points.”
Crucially, Lynch also feels Tigers’ squad has more depth now than for the past few years.
He said: “Competition for places is massive. I think last year players probably were guaranteed spots.
“They could probably think ‘I am going to play this week, so I don’t have to perform’. But now there are two or three players in every position and if you don’t perform in training or in the game, you are out and somebody else is in.
“You are going to struggle to get back in then. I think competition brings the best out of people anyway – if you are not performing you are out the week after, so you have got to give your best every time you play.”
At 34 Lynch is now one of the game’s elder statesmen, but he insists he has lost none of his enthusiasm, either for his hometown club or the sport itself.
“I am probably more enthusiastic than ever, because I am at Cas now and it’s where I started,” he said.
“I love playing here and it is great to be back, a great feeling. It hasn’t changed much since last I was here, but obviously the personnel has changed and the coaching staff and it is a new start really.
“I can’t wait to get started now and I am probably more excited than I have ever been since I started playing.
“When I left I didn’t think I would come back, but I have tried for a few years to get back. Now Danny Orr’s on the coaching staff he was a big influence on me coming back.
“I am glad I did it, there’s no looking back and I can’t wait to get the season started.”