AS SOMEONE who was part of the euphoric Cronulla Sharks club that secured a maiden Premiership last season, Castleford Tigers’ Jesse Sene-Lefao knows nothing is ever won in June.
Admittedly, for fans of the West Yorkshire club, as they see their side out in front of Super League and sweeping past most who come before them, it is hard not to get carried away with their current form and brio.
Could this be the time they finally win a first title in their 91 -year history?
Considering the positivity constantly beaming from blockbusting forward Sene-Lefao, arguably the most enthusiastic, effusive character in the competition, it would be hard to say ‘no’.
However, he maintains Daryl Powell’s side – who host struggling Warrington Wolves tomorrow – will not let the headlines and backslapping go to their heads.
Asked if they can last the distance, the 27-year-old from Wellington in New Zealand, said: “I feel like we’re on our way but we’re still challengers, we haven’t won anything.
“It is something (being first Castleford side to win the league) that crosses your mind but we don’t think about it too much.
“We had a good start and that’s it. I like that we challenge to win every game and challenge to win everyone’s respect.
“The business end is now on in. I’m really looking forward to these big challenges when teams are going to step up and try win games because they don’t want to be in that bottom eight.
“For us it’s a mindset challenge. We just stay focused, stay humble and just take every game as it comes.
“We knew that in the beginning of pre-season when we had a lot of young kids jump in and they did their job that we had a good squad.
“That was shown against St Helens last week. But it just proves that our 17 that take the field now has to watch their back as people are working hard behind us.
“I feel like that’s why our team is probably playing so well because if you have a bad game you’re not going to be in the team next week. It’s good to be challenged each and every day. It’s a good culture to have.”
Warrington – last season’s League Leaders – have not won for four games, are beset by injuries and are currently in the bottom four having suffered an embarrassing 44-4 defeat at Huddersfield Giants on Sunday.
But Sene-Lefao, who hopes to pass a head test to maintain his ever-present record this term, maintained: “It’s a big game and a danger game for us. We need to perform really well against this team. We played against them earlier in the year and they took us right to the 78th minute.
“They’ve got players who can strike from anywhere on the field which is dangerous.
“The pressure is on us to play well. We rested a few players last week and came out with the win. Now we’ve got our players back and it’s our main focus that we start well and play well.”
Castleford did, indeed, rest some of their stars on Sunday including England quartet Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker, Mike McMeeken and Michael Shenton – who all return tomorrow – yet still overcame the odds to defeat Saints 16-12 with a raft of fringe players included.
It was a significant victory which opened up a four-point gap at the top and Sene-Lefao admitted: “It’s weird when you get told you shouldn’t win and you come out with the win. Within the playing group it was massive for us.
“We knew deep down inside that we believed in each other and would show up on the field. But just to prove it to people and prove to our club where we’re at.
“I feel like our club has come a long way and that win was one of the most exciting wins I’ve been a part of.”
Castleford are seeking an eighth straight victory tomorrow but they have also won all nine games at Wheldon Road this term.
Sene-Lefao admitted: “It’s awesome playing in front of these fans. I was at Manly for a while and a lot of players don’t like going to play at Brookvale.
“I feel like our stadium is the same; people always complain but I think what are they complaining for?
“When we play at home we say in our little circle before games, ‘This is our home ground. This is our house. We control what happens here’. I felt it was a massive statement last weekend.”
Adam Milner is expected to return from injury, while Junior Moors, Sene-Lefao, Jake Webster and Greg Minikin face checks after picking up knocks last week.