Smart money’s on Castleford Tigers to get off to a flying start

Luke Gale
Luke Gale
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DREAM TEAM ace Luke Gale says Castleford Tigers won’t be fooled into thinking they have an easy start to the new campaign.

Tigers begin their First Utility Super League season away to Hull KR on Sunday and Gale insisted they are expecting a battle.

The hosts have had a tough pre-season including heavy defeats to Huddersfield Giants and Hull and coach Chris Chester is favourite to be the first team boss to lose his job this year.

But Tigers were beaten by eventual wooden-spoonists Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in their opening game last year and Gale reckons that was a lesson learned.

“I don’t think you can read too much into their pre-season results,” said the half-back, who was Tigers’ outstanding player in 2015.

“They have obviously struggled, but they pose a big threat. They have got some great players and we won’t go there thinking they are in a bit of strife – we will go there all guns blazing and hoping to get a good start.”

Rovers are hoping for a record crowd and Gale admitted Craven Park can be an intimidating venue for visiting teams.

“We have mentioned that already,” he said.

“It is a hostile place to go and a hard place to go. We will have to be on our guard or we will get turned over.

“We are looking for a really good start.”

Gale is also aware Tigers’ pre-season results – including a big win over Wakefield in their full-scale trial game – won’t mean anything in two days’ time.

But he said: “It has been a good pre-season.

“A couple of weeks ago we put a side out to beat an experienced York side on the Friday and then we beat a full-strength Wakefield on the Sunday.

“We were really happy with that, it went really well.

“Combinations worked well and it was a quality performance.

“You can’t read too much into it, but we can take confidence from it and, hopefully, we will carry that into round one.”

Defeats in their first three games last year cost Tigers a semi-final place and Gale admitted they need to be quicker out of the blocks this time around.

“The start wasn’t the best,” he conceded. “But we had 10 new faces last year and it took a bit longer than expected to gel.

“Powelly [coach Daryl Powell] has spoken about getting a massive start and the boys are really working towards that.”

Powell will name his initial 19-man squad for the game today. Only Nathan Massey (hand), Frankie Mariano (knee) and Ash Robson (knee) are unavailable due to injury.