THE FIRST part of the job has been completed, but Castleford Tigers hooker Paul McShane insists the hard work lies ahead.
Last weekend’s 24-6 win at Salford Red Devils guaranteed Tigers’ place in the top-four at the end of the regular Betfred Super League season and they will go second if Wigan Warriors lose at home to leaders St Helens tomorrow and Castleford beat Huddersfield Giants at the Jungle 24 hours later.
The leading quartet play four home games in the Super-8s and McShane said: “It’s a big thing for us, there’s nothing better than playing here [at the Jungle] on a packed out Friday.
“We want to be known as a top-four side and to be pushing to win things. To cement that after having a successful year last year is massive for us.”
But McShane reckons Tigers can expect stern resistance from eighth-placed Giants. He warned: “Huddersfield are going to be desperate to stay in the eight.
“They are playing well, they’ve got a bit of momentum behind them and the new coach has probably lifted all of them. They seem to be having a real dig and we have to match that if we want to get into the top-two. We need to be right on our game.”
Tigers dominated Super League in 2017 before losing to Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final. McShane believes they have found a different way of doing things this season.
“We haven’t been as fluent as we were last year,” he admitted.
“We’ve had some players missing in key positions and a lot of squad rotation and different combinations.
“That’s going to have an effect, but we are finding different ways to play and we’re still coming up with results.”
Tigers have coped well with their run of injuries, something McShane put down to having a “good structure in place”.
He stressed: “People need to buy into it for it to work and they have.
“The people who’ve come in have been outstanding, especially young Jake Trueman.
“To step into the Man of Steel’s boots and, at 19 years of age, to direct the team around the field, he has been massive for us.”