THIS SEASON is too close to call, which means it’s vital Castleford Tigers get off to a flying start at St Helens on Friday.
That is the view of hooker Paul McShane with just two days to go until the 2017 Betfred Super League leaders begin their bid to prove they are more than one-season wonders.
Tigers were 10 points better than their nearest rivals last year, but McShane reckons the competition this time will be much stronger.
“It is going to be a massive year,” predicted the former Leeds Rhinos and Wakefield Trinity star.
“There’s that many teams that are probably going to improve on last year – look at Warrington and Wigan, they are going to come out fighting.
“Saints and Leeds are always up there so it’s a tough one to call.
“For us, we just need to be focused on getting off to the best start we can and then building on that week-in and week-out.
“We want to be successful. We want to be known as one of the best teams Cas have ever had and to do that we need to keep building on last year and really cement ourselves as a top-four side.
“It’s all right doing it one year, but let’s do it for three or four and be up there competing at the end of every season.”
Tigers have not won an away game against St Helens in the summer era and McShane conceded they are facing a “tough start, massive”.
He said: “They finished strongly last year and they’re going to want to build on that after a full pre-season with the new coach.
“He had a positive impact on them last year when he came in so we need to be fully focused and ready for that game. People talk about us not winning there, but we need to go and get the job done. We just want to go there and get off to the best start we can. Hopefully we can go there and get things right.”
McShane insisted: “We all believe in the lads who’ve come in, they’ve really bought into it and we just need to be a bit smarter and maybe change a few things during games which will make us even better. We are not changing our style of play, we enjoy how we play and it works, but sometimes we might have to tweak little things on the run.”