SECOND SEASON syndrome is not a worry for Castleford Tigers’ down to earth teenage talent Jacob Trueman.
The former Bradford Bulls youngster will go into the new campaign with a big and growing reputation, but reckons the going is about to get tougher and is focused simply on being better than he was in 2018.
Trueman had a two-game taste of Betfred Super League two years ago, but the following season was his breakthrough when he played 28 times, all but two of those appearances being in the starting team.
He was named Super League’s young player of the year and has been awarded Tigers’ coveted number six jersey for the coming season, but his feet remain planted firmly on the ground.
He is aware of so-called second season syndrome – when players slump after an impressive first campaign – but insisted: “I wouldn’t say it’s something I’m concerned about, but it’s definitely something I want to avoid.
“I am conscious of trying to avoid that, I don’t want my performances to drop.
“I know it is going to be harder this year, people are going to know who I am, know my strengths and my weaknesses and I’ve got to be better than last year, I know that.
“The aim is to build on last year and go to the next level.”
Despite his young age and relative inexperience, Trueman will be Tigers’ main pivot this year, particularly following half-back partner Luke Gale’s long-term Achilles injury.
“It is a nice achievement to have,” Trueman said of the No 6 accolade. “But there’s four half-backs all after two spots so I have got to train well and, if I get in the team, I’ve got to play well to get one of those spots.”
Gale’s potentially season-ending injury is a huge setback, for Tigers and Super League, but Jamie Ellis, Ben Roberts and Cory Aston could all step in and Trueman insisted: “We are confident.
“Obviously it is a massive loss, in my opinion Luke is probably the best half in the competition and to lose him you are always going to suffer, but there’s four of us and we are all confident we can fill that gap.”
Despite Gale’s lay-off, Tigers’ sights are set on silverware in 2018.
They are now an established top-four club, but major trophies have eluded them and Trueman admitted that is something they are desperate to put right.
They lost in the 2017 Grand Final and a play-offs semi-final last year and he stressed: “We have got to go to that next level, we have got to win something.
“We have had two big games in the last two years and we haven’t performed, we haven’t won them.
“That has got to be the aim now, to get some silverware.
“It is something we are conscious we really want to achieve. We have changed things slightly this year and we are confident can have a real good go at both competitions.”
Tigers have not signed anyone since the end of last year, but Trueman feels a deep squad is one of the Wheldon Road club’s strengths.
“There’s some really good players coming through,” he predicted.
“I have played with them over the last couple of years – at under-19s level – and I know, if they get their chance, they’ll take it.”