THEIR SEASON ended on a low note, but front-rower Grant Millington does not believe Castleford Tigers have a big-game hoodoo.
Tigers’ title hopes were shattered when they slumped to a 14-0 defeat at Wigan Warriors in a Betfred Super League semi-final last week.
The 2017 league leaders produced a similarly below-par performance in last year’s Grand Final when they were beaten 24-6 by Leeds Rhinos.
Millington reckons they do need to be better when it comes to the crunch, but insisted: “I wouldn’t say we’ve got a problem with big games.”
The Aussie forward said: “You look at the Super League semi-final last year, that was a big game and we won that by a point, but there’s obviously something there that we’ve got to look at, highlight and work on in the pre-season. There’s a little bit there that we will definitely have a look at, but I think it’s nothing that hard work and a bit of experience, which we gained [on Friday], can’t fix up.”
Tigers finished third in Super League and Millington feels that was a good achievement.
“It has been a tough season,” he admitted. “It has been highlighted before how many people we’ve had coming in and out of the squad at different periods.
“We’ve scrapped for a lot of wins that we probably weren’t entitled to come away with two points from. The thing that made it disappointing is we started getting all our players back and we started playing some good rugby.
“Obviously we lost the week before against Saints, but that didn’t impact our performance [on Friday]. We went to Wigan and didn’t play our greatest.
“All credit to Wigan, they were fantastic, they defended so well, but it was a disappointing end to a season which has been so tough.”
Tigers’ players are now on their close-season break before preparations for the 2019 campaign begin next month.
Millington added: “There’s a lot of guys who’ve been playing busted. My body’s definitely ready for a rest now. I’ll have a bit of a break, have a couple of weeks off and then start doing a little bit of training before pre-season.
“We need a big one because next year I really think we are going to go for everything. There’s not going to be too much movement, our squad’s pretty settled at the moment.
“This year has given us a great platform, a lot of guys have played more rugby than they thought they would have and it is going to give them a good opportunity to come into pre-season full of confidence and fighting to make that starting side and really give next year a good shake.”
England scrum-half Luke Gale has been ruled out of the autumn internationals through injury.
The Castleford half-back, who missed the mid-season Test against New Zealand with a dislocated patella, is thought to have sustained the latest injury to his knee in the Tigers’ play-off semi-final defeat by Wigan .
Gale was in Bennett’s 24-man squad for the international against France at Leigh on October 17 and the three-match series with the Kiwis.