MIKE McMEEKEN believes Castleford Tigers’ season has been just as impressive as last term even though they finished the regular season third rather than top.
The England international second-row helped the West Yorkshire club claim the League Leaders’ Shield by a record margin of 10 points 12 months ago before losing at Old Trafford.
But, ahead of tonight’s Super 8s opener at second-placed Wigan Warriors, he feels third is an achievement in itself given the myriad injuries they have suffered along the way.
“We’ve been without Galey (Luke Gale) for a big chunk of it and he is a key player for us,” said McMeeken.
“A lot of teams have had that as well – Wigan have been without the likes of George Williams for the last six weeks or so and other teams have suffered as well.
“But we’ve got ourselves in a good position and the squad’s really shown how good we are.
“We didn’t start off the greatest, but to get ourselves into third position come the end of the regular season was a massive achievement for us and we’re really proud of where we’ve finished.
“Obviously we’re not 10 points clear at the top, but going forward it’s a strong position and we’re looking to build form for the semi-finals.”
The perfect start would be tonight when Daryl Powell’s side – already almost assured of a semi-final place – realise a victory would see them usurp rivals Wigan from second, the place they eventually require to then gain a home advantage.
“Second is a key spot, getting that home semi-final, but at the moment it is just making sure we knock off each week as it comes,” insisted the player, who returned from his own injuries in the final regular-round win at Widnes.
We can’t look too far ahead. We’ve got Wigan and then Warrington next week so two very tough games in succession.Mike McMeeken
“We can’t look too far ahead. We’ve got Wigan and then Warrington next week so two very tough games in succession.
“We are in a really strong position now and it’s one we can really kick on from. We’ve got some tough games on the road, but also four home games which is really key for us.
“The place is really pumping when we get to the big games, the crowd get right behind us and that makes a massive difference.”