DREAM TEAM half-back Luke Gale is aiming to take a leaf out of Man of Steel Zak Hardaker’s book as he bids to steer Castleford Tigers to silverware and break on to the Test scene.
Gale had an outstanding first season at Castleford last year, being named in First Utility Super League’s form team and earning a call into the full England squad, though he had to watch all four Tests from the sidelines after missing out to Wigan’s George Williams and then Matty Smith.
Hardaker, the Rhinos full-back, had a similar disappointment in 2014, being a non-playing member of England’s Four Nations squad, but bounced back to be voted the British game’s top performer the following season.
Now Gale, who scored 11 tries and 102 goals in 29 appearances for his club last term, is determined to follow a similar path, by helping Tigers to silverware and earning a spot in the England side for this autumn’s internationals.
“I put pressure on myself anyway to achieve and I am looking for bigger and better things,” said Gale, who began his career in Rhinos’ academy and had spells with Doncaster, London Broncos and Bradford Bulls before joining Cas.
“I want to nail that England spot.
“I was disappointed not getting a game last year and that has spurred me on a bit more.
“I spoke to Zak about it and it has made me a bit more hungry.
“I will be looking for an even bigger season and to cement that international place come the end of the year.”
International duty delayed Gale’s return to pre-season training and he said he was impressed with the strides made by his team mates while he was absent.
“It was quite a long season so it was good to get away,” Gale said. “I missed the hard bit of pre-season – the first few weeks – and I’ve come back raring to go.
“I came back three weeks after the rest of the boys and they’ve ripped in. They are looking really good, they’ve made me feel a bit slow and sluggish.
“It is all going really well and we’re expecting a big season.”
Tigers’ first team squad will jet to Lanzarote on Sunday for a warm weather training camp and Gale reckons that will give preparations an added boost.
“It’s not something Castleford have done for the last few years, so I think it will be really beneficial,” he predicted.
“The warm weather does sharpen your skills up. We know what it’s like training over here, it has been raining for the last month it feels like, so the boys are looking forward to the good weather.
“Hopefully we will have a good camp and get a bit out of it.”
Gale could be part of a new half-back partnership this year, alongside on-loan Wigan Warriors stand-off Ryan Hampshire.
“He has been looking really good in training,” Gale said of the Normanton Knights product, who will spend the whole season at Tigers. “We have got a lot of options and six, seven and full-back. We’ve got a lot of strike.”