Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell says tomorrow’s opening test against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats will be a “massive challenge” for his side.
The traditional rivalry between the two West Yorkshire neighbours is quickly renewed with Castleford, hoping to recreate their magic of 2014, hosting opponents who are intent on rising up the ladder themselves.
Powell won Coach of the Year following his exploits in turning Tigers from relegation candidates into a Super League force and Wembley finalists.
Trinity are favourites to be demoted but Powell said: “They have got quality in their squad.
“They’d probably look at it and say it could be a little deeper but there are threats all over.
“Wakefield will be a challenge for anyone particularly early in the season.
“Whether they pick up any injuries would be a worry for them but they certainly haven’t got that at the moment so this first game is going to be a real tough one for us and a massive challenge.
“They are dangerous and we’ll need to play outstandingly well.”
There will be pressure on Castleford given last year they defied the odds to come within just 80 minutes of finishing top for the first time in their history.
But Powell insisted: “Top eight is a minimum. I said that last year and nothing changed.
“The fact we finished higher up than that is neither here nor there.
“I want us to be a real tough side to beat, consistent in what we deliver and those standards we set ourselves last year need to be right up there again.
“If we can do that then we give ourselves a really good chance again.”
Tigers are set to give debuts to six of their eight new signings – Steve Crossley, Luke Gale, Scott Moore, Junior Moors, Ben Roberts and Denny Solomona – while Jordan Tansey could get a rare outing in the absence of injured full-back Luke Dorn. Forwards Lee Jewitt and Frankie Mariano also sit out the opener, paving the way for Ryan Boyle to make his first appearance since April.
Championship club Featherstone are giving a trial to French international scrum-half Remy Marginet.
The 25-year-old goal-kicking half-back, who plays for Palau, was the leading scorer in the 2014 European Cup.