Super League: Why Danny Richardson reckons Castleford Tigers are top-four material
“I remember my first year here, 2020 - we started the year on fire and we were top of the league before Covid hit,” Richardson recalled.
“I remember the confidence we had; you wanted to play every single week and couldn’t wait to get out there.
“Since then we have been struck by injuries and a number of things and not been where we’ve needed to be, but I think if we have a start like we did in 2020 and we can get some wins, it will set us on a nice run for the full season.”
Tigers have not qualified for the play-offs since 2019 and are desperate to put that right this year.
Richardson insisted: “The squad we’ve got here and the signings we’ve made, on paper, we are probably good enough to be winning Grand Finals and Challenge Cups.
“For us to not make the top-four would be deemed a failure, in my opinion.
“As a club, we’ve not directly discussed any goals yet but, as a group, you can sense the feel is top-four and making a real effort at the Challenge Cup as well.”
On a personal note, Richardson said he is “feeling great” with just over a week to go until round one.
“I’ve not missed a day in this pre-season,” he revealed.
“I feel fit and strong and sharp and confident, which is the main thing for me.
“I’m feeling good and ready to go now.”
This year is the start of a new era for Tigers under coach Lee Radford who replaced long-serving boss Daryl Powell at the end of last season.
Richardson described pre-season as “really good” and confirmed: “With Radders coming in, he has changed some of the facilities around and made the day flow a bit better.
“It was a bit of a fresh start for everyone; everyone has been ripping in since day one of pre-season and we are all on the same page.”
Of what has changed, Richardson added: “Pre-seasons are usually pretty similar, you start with a lot of running and then build into the rugby bits.
“It has been similar in that but, in terms of other bits through the days - little meetings here and there - it is a bit different.”
On top of that, the change of coach has added some uncertainty, which is bringing the best out of players.
“No one knows what his [Radford’s] team is going to be for round one,” admitted Richardson, who joined Tigers from St Helens two years ago.
“From that, you get everybody ripping in and giving it 100 per cent every day in pre-season, so everyone’s improving as a player and we are as a team.
“That’s how you end up winning championships.”