AT 32, Castleford Tigers’ Grant Millington has seen it all before when it comes to the start of a new season.
However, the Australian forward admits he has rarely felt better than ahead of tonight’s kick-off.
The West Yorkshire club open looking to get the campaign off firing with a visit from Challenge Cup holders Catalans Dragons.
It is Millington’s eighth season at Wheldon Road since joining from Canterbury Bulldogs and, if Castleford are to press on and challenge for Super League, they need the ball-handling prop to be at his best.
He admitted: “I am feeling good. I think I’ve only missed one session through illness through the whole of pre-season so I’ve been in the mix for just about all of it. It makes such a difference when you get a full pre-season in; I’ve had previous years when through injury or other reasons you can’t train every week or you miss chunks of it.
“So it’s the best I’ve felt in a while and I’m looking forward to kicking off against Catalans.”
The club’s come under a bit of stick for not signing many players in the off-season, but there’s not really been a need to.Grant Millington
Although their French opponents have recruited boldly, with big-name signings such as England star Sam Tomkins and his Wigan team-mate Matty Smith, plus promising Widnes Vikings back-row Matt Whitley, Castleford have been quiet in terms of new arrivals.
Millington said: “The club’s come under a bit of stick for not signing many players in the off-season, but there’s not really been a need to.
“It’s done a good job in tying down people to new contracts who might have in the past gone elsewhere and we would have had to replace them.
“With the way the club’s going people want to stay here now; they don’t need to move on. It’s got a feeling of a place you want to be. So keeping the people here who would have previously left has been a massive plus for us.”
And, of course, Castleford did sign Hull FC prop Liam Watts last March before Leigh Centurions full-back Peter Mata’utia joined in July - two crucial additions.
“In the last two years we haven’t had too many ins and outs and you can tell it’s a real big positive for us,” continued Millington, who hopes to return to Old Trafford to avenge their 2017 Grand Final defeat to Leeds Rhinos.