DEPARTING MAN of Steel contender Daryl Clark is confident Castleford Tigers will be a force again in Super League next year.
Tigers were the surprise package this season, reaching the Challenge Cup final and going within one win of top spot in the table before eventually finishing fourth.
Clark, who has been nominated for the Man of Steel and young player of the year accolades, is among a number of key men who played their final game for the club in last week’s play-offs defeat by Warrington Wolves.
He has signed for Warrington, Craig Huby is en-route to Huddersfield Giants, Marc Sneyd will join Hull and Weller Hauraki is Salford-bound. Jamie Ellis has also turned down a new deal and is set to sign for Huddersfield, but Clark feels Tigers can build on the advances they have made this year.
“To finish like that (last week’s defeat) is pretty disappointing,” he admitted. “It doesn’t take away from what a great season it’s been, though.
“They have made some great signings for next season and I’m confident they will do well next season and in future as well.”
Clark is also looking to up his game next term, but admitted it is a wrench to leave his hometown club.
“I’ve had a great time,” he stated. “I’ve been here since I was 13 through the scholarship and academy sides so it has been a pretty special few years
“The highlight has got to be walking out at Wembley in front of a pretty much the full Cas town. That was a pretty special moment.”
As for his own game next year, Clark added: “I am hoping it will go to another level, but I’ll just concentrate on getting my head down and I’m sure I can do well.”
Ellis has similar feelings after taking off his Tigers jumper for the final time.
“It’s disappointing ending it like that, as we had had such a good season,” Ellis reflected. “After the Challenge Cup final we’ve been a bit off our game. I think it took a lot out of us. There’s no excuses but I am proud of what we’ve done this year. From where we’ve come from it has been a good season.”
Ellis added: “I’ve loved every minute of it at Cas. I live over here now and think I’m going to stay living over here. I’ve made some great friends, friends for life. Everyone involved with Cas has been good for me and I’ve really enjoyed it all.
“I think Cas will improve next year. Daryl Powell is a great coach and he’ll get them up for next year. I’m sure they’ll do even better than this season.”