It is hard to imagine a feeling of nervousness in the Tigers squad as they cruised to a 40-6 victory, with Gentles claiming a hat-trick.
The Women’s Super League was cancelled last year because of the Covid-19 outbreak, meaning the competition’s last fixture prior to Sunday’s games was the 2019 Grand Final between Castleford and Leeds Rhinos.
“It was really overwhelming. I don’t think I have been that nervous before a game since I started playing,” reflected Gentles.
“I couldn’t sleep the night before and I had my bag packed four days before. It was crazy, it was like we were playing for the first time again.”
Two tries from Hollie-Mae Dodd and one each from Tamzin Renouf and Grace Field completed the scoring for the Tigers while Brogan Churm scored Featherstone’s only try.
Castleford’s former head coach, Lindsay Anfield stepped down from her role due to personal reasons in February but, despite the disruption, the Tigers still put together a fine display.
Gentles added: “We had a lot of disruption during pre-season with coaches leaving and other things going on in the background.
“We knew this season was probably going to be our toughest. We had people dropping out last minute because of Covid but we saw some really promising signs during the game.
"It was nowhere near a polished performance, so there is still plenty to work on over the next few weeks.”
Gentles underwent surgery last year and would have been happy to just come through the game unscathed but was delighted to claim a hat-trick.
“I was really nervous to see how my shoulder would hold up in a game situation,” she said.
“I just wanted to get some minutes under my belt but to get a hat-trick on the first game back is really good.”