George Griffin aiming to go one better with Castleford Tigers

CONSIDERING he reached a Grand Final with former club Salford Red Devils, it is perhaps no surprise new signing George Griffin firmly believes Castleford Tigers can win a maiden Super League title in 2020.

George Griffin: Switched from Salford to Castleford Tigers.

The athletic prop was part of the Salford side that stunned the competition last season.

Rated as relegation contenders at the start, they surprised everyone but themselves by reaching the play-offs for the first time and then surged to Old Trafford.

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The massive underdogs ultimately came unstuck against runaway leaders St Helens but proved the potential for unfancied sides to challenge the so-called elite.

Castleford, of course, have been regular top-five finishers since Daryl Powell took charge in 2013 and finished top for the first time four years later when they also played their maiden Grand Final.

Granted, they fell short at Old Trafford against Leeds Rhinos and again since, losing the 2018 semi-final 14-0 at Wigan Warriors before being demolished by Griffin’s Salford 22-0 in this year’s play-offs.

Tigers, then, could be classed as underdogs themselves but Griffin insisted: “I don’t think you could say Castleford aren’t going to do anything given the team we have and success Cas have had in recent years.

“I think people will put teams above us but it is something to prove wrong again I suppose.

“I want to win trophies in my career and that is why I have come to Castleford; now I have played in the Grand Final I want to go back and win one.

“We have got a good enough team to do it and with Daryl Powell steering the wheel I think we can. With the players we’ve got it is inevitable we are going to do something special.

“People always wrote us off at Salford before a ball was even kicked.

“It was a class season but that came down to the hard work we put in in pre-season and looking after each other all through the year. We had a great physio team and coaching staff and everyone did their bit and it seemed to pay off for us.”

Griffin, the younger brother of former England prop Darrell and Hull FC centre Josh, started his career at Hull KR in 2012 and has slowly developed into one of the most efficient front-rows in the competition.

He spent the 2014 campaign at London Broncos before moving to Salford where he amassed more than 100 games.

Griffin feels there is still more to come and hopes to improve his handling quality at Wheldon Road.

Castleford already have a couple of ball-handling props in Great Britain call-up Liam Watts and Australian veteran Grant Millington.

“I do want to work on my skillset a bit more, my passing and stuff like that,” said the 27-year-old. “Powelly gives the go-ahead for the middles to do that so that’s why I’ve come here: to test myself and improve my game.

“The boys I spoke to couldn’t speak highly enough of Daryl’s coaching standard and his approach to players.

“I knew a little bit about him before but, having now worked with him, he is a great bloke and a good coach.

“I played with Mike McMeeken and Matt Cook at London and spoke to them before signing. They spoke very highly of the place. I was looking forward to coming here and so far I’ve been proved right in making that decision.”

With Castleford’s opening friendly against Bradford Bulls on Boxing Day, Griffin is in full training after being sidelined when he first arrived at the West Yorkshire on a two-year contract.

“Pre-season is tough and it has been a bit frustrating because I came in with a little bit of an injury,” explained the Oxford-born player, who also spent a spell on loan at Wakefield Trinity four years ago.

“I had to do the fitness test and that is probably when I got a little niggle in my knee. But that has turned around now and the boys have made me feel welcome. I’m really enjoying it.”

Castleford, fifth last term, begin their campaign against promoted Toronto Wolfpack at Headingley on February 2 and also face the Canadian club for captain Michael Shenton’s testimonial next month.

“I am looking forward to it and they’ve obviously made some big signings, like Sonny Bill Williams,” added Griffin. “His career speaks for itself but at the end of the day he’s just another player in another team and we will approach it like any other game.”