Castleford Tigers coach Ian Millward says the visit of World Club champions Leeds Rhinos is a perfect opportunity for his embryonic side to test themselves.
While many view Castleford’s opening fixtures as daunting – they lost at Challenge Cup final winners Warrington on Sunday – the Australian is viewing it in an entirely different manner.
“Having experienced myself what it takes to win the World Club Challenge, I am really respectful of what Leeds have achieved and the statement it makes about the game here,” said Millward, whose St Helens side memorably defeated Brisbane Broncos in 2001.
“There’s nothing better than getting the World Club champions down here at our own ground and I say let’s get on with this.
“In Warrington and Leeds we’re probably facing the two best teams in Super League and, with eight new players, we’re really getting tested early by the best.
“But it’s also giving us that picture of where we need to keep getting better. It’s a massive derby and a huge game for us.”
Castleford, who finished joint-bottom in 2013, are acutely aware of the need for a bright and robust start tomorrow.
At Warrington, they were 28-0 behind in only 23 minutes against the prolific side Leeds defeated in last year’s Grand Final.
They showed real courage to fight back to 40-24 and there was plenty of encouraging signs but Millward knows there has to be more steel early on.
“In the same position last year we would have exploded, gone in the other direction and tried doing things ourselves,” he said.
“But this squad decided to stick to what we’d done in pre-season, work hard and fight together to get back in the game which was really pleasing.
“We bombed a couple more tries so it could have got even more interesting in the last 10 minutes.
“We realise we have to start in a better fashion against Leeds and we’re looking forward to that,” he said.
One player who is especially keen to impress is Jordan Tansey, the former Rhinos full-back who has made a return to the top flight after a difficult season playing Championship football with York City Knights.
Tansey, 26, has endured his share of problems in the past after being sacked by Hull FC for alcohol-related issues.
He showed some neat touches at Warrington though and Millward added: “It was his first Super League game in 12 months.
“Whatever he does now, he’ll be better later down the track.
“He’s very talented but what we like about him is he’s shown a very good attitude off the field.
“We’re working real hard on that and we all know the talent he has.
“I’m sure he’d love to have a big game against Leeds too.”