CASTLEFORD Tigers head coach Daryl Powell believes some critics will still question his side’s ability in 2015 despite last season’s heroics.
He won the Super League ‘coach of the year’ award after guiding a club that traditionally battles to survive to a Challenge Cup final and within just two points of top place.
There will be plenty of expectation on them to repeat such form in the new campaign – not least from Powell – but the Wheldon Road chief also acknowledges that some observers will continue to wonder about their credentials. Ahead of Sunday’s home opener against Wakefield, Powell said: “We were pretty close to doing something really special last year.
“As it ended up, it was a genuine year of progress but there’s things to improve on.
“The squad has changed a little bit and I still think there will be a bit of doubt about us and about what we can deliver.
“The reason for that is when you look at the personnel we’ve lost. People questioned that the year before as Rangi Chase had left. We’ve had another special player leave this time in Daryl Clark and, with Weller Hauraki and Craig Huby leaving, I think there will be some doubt.
“The players that have come in have got to make sure that doubt is dispelled pretty quickly.”
Castleford certainly coped brilliantly with the loss of England stand-off Chase to Salford last term and they will hope to manage similarly given the departure of Clark, another ‘Man of Steel’ who was sold to Warrington.
Powell has recruited former England hooker Scott Moore and Melbourne Storm second-row Junior Moores to offset those losses with both hoping to debut on Sunday.
He is also expecting former Leeds Rhinos stars full-back Jordan Tansey and centre Ashley Gibson to have a bigger impact, too, each having made just six league appearances last term.
“We’ve got a fair bit of depth,” he said.
“And one positive for us is some players who didn’t really play that well last year – like Ashley Gibson, Jordan Tansey – have really put their hands up this pre-season and made the squad look even deeper for me in terms of quality. But there’s no doubt it is a tougher comp’ this year.
“You take a couple of teams (Bradford and London) who struggled last year out of it and that stiffens it up so challenges will come around thick and fast.
“You only have to look at our start – Wakefield, Catalan, Saints and Wigan – to see that.”