THIS COULD be the year Castleford Tigers go from nearly-men to winners.
That’s coach Daryl Powell’s belief as his side prepare to begin their First Utility Super League campaign away to Hull KR tomorrow.
Tigers have not won a major competition since the Regal Trophy in 1994, but after two years of progress Powell is confident his team are ready to take the next step.
Cas finished fourth in the 2014 Super League table, after going into the final round with a chance of finishing top and they were also Challenge Cup runners-up that year.
A poor start cost them a Super League semi-final place last season, when they finished fifth, but asked if they can win silverware this term, Powell stressed: “That’s the aim.
“It is something we have spoken about. We have spoken about being competitive, being in the top-four and giving ourselves a chance.
“With the Challenge Cup you never know what’s going to happen or what sort of form you are going to be in when that comes around, but I don’t see why not.”
Powell admitted the competition is getting stronger across the board. He added: “It is a challenge.
“Over the last couple of years we’ve been really competitive, we know how we play and we are confident with how we go about the game.
“We know we can beat the best teams. We feel we have got an opportunity if we play well enough, but we have got to be good – you have got to be outstanding to win something.
“A lot of teams are feeling vibrant, so it should be a great comp’.”
It has been a tough winter for tomorrow’s hosts, who suffered heavy defeats by Huddersfield Giants and Hull in trial games.
Powell insisted: “We aren’t reading too much into that.
“They will be desperate to start the season well, they are at home and it is always a difficult place to go, but we are in decent shape, our confidence is good and we’ve had a really good pre-season.
“A good start is important for everybody.
“Everybody wants to get off to a good start and build confidence and we are no different.
“This is a new year, we have made some good additions and there is a really good feel about the place.”
Ben Crooks, Ryan Hampshire and Joel Monaghan are all expected to feature for Tigers for the first time in a competitive game.
But Cas are without Andy Lynch, who has had a second operation in an injured wrist. He could be back to face Wakefield a week tomorrow.
Nathan Massey (hand) and Frankie Mariano (knee) remain on the casualty list.
Former Leeds Rhinos trio Chris Clarkson, Thomas Minns and Robbie Mulhern are all in contention to make their Rovers debut.
Hull KR from: Sio, Mantellato, Thornley, Dixon, Kelly, Allgood, Blair, Horne, Clarkson, Donaldson, Green, Tilse, Cockayne, Boudebza, Greenwood, Minns, Marsh, Lawler, Mulhern.
Castleford from: Boyle, Cook, Crooks, Dorn, Gale, Hampshire, O Holmes, Jewitt, McMeeken, McShane, Maher, Millington, Milner, Moors, Monaghan, Roberts, Shenton, Solomona, Webster.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3pm.