CASTLEFORD TIGERS’ boss Daryl Powell has no issue playing most of his senior squad in just one pre-season friendly – as he says they are already reaching game-intensity in training.
He will name a largely second string side to visit Widnes Vikings on Sunday, admitting the majority of his first team will only play in captain Michael Shenton’s testimonial against Toronto Wolfpack the following week.
Castleford then have another fortnight to prepare for their Super League opener against the newly-promoted Canadian outfit at Emerald Headingley.
Granted, some players had a run-out in the Boxing Day clash with Bradford Bulls, but his main 17 will not feature together until that warm-up with Toronto.
Explaining his thinking, Powell said: “Pre-season is too short anyway.
“Then there’s Christmas to take into account. You want to give the players some time off over that period.
They are getting into it; you’ll be at 100 per cent there in some sessions. So it’s not an issue; I think one game will be enough.Daryl Powell
“If they played this weekend, you take another five days out of their preparation; they’d have to back off three days before and two days after.
“I don’t think it’s worth it. Instead, we can get some training into the players who are playing v Toronto; over this weekend they will be focused on their practice.
“And we played 13 on 13 today (Tuesday) for 40 minutes. We’ve a whole half of football there. We’ve got GPS so we can check to see if it is up to game-speed.
“We have been training at game intensity as well so, on Thursday, we have another game-intensity session. It’s not far off.
“They are getting into it; you’ll be at 100 per cent there in some sessions. So it’s not an issue; I think one game will be enough.”
Tigers are only expected to be without Junior Moors, Mike McMeeken – who has picked up a slight calf issue – and Alex Foster for the kick-off on February 2 with everyone else fit and firing.
Moreover, that trio’s return should not be too long afterwards and Powell – who is looking forward to seeing new signing Danny Richardson paired with Jake Trueman at half-back – is rightly excited as the start of a new season draws ever closer.
He said: “We’re in a good place. The new guys have fitted in well. Obviously when you have a new half-back pairing, that’s important that that gels well. Those two guys are knocking about together on a regular basis now which is a great sign. They are both young, British and have got things in common.
“Danny’s fitted in well. He came in a week earlier than we asked him to – which is always a good sign for a new player – and then we asked Truey to come in a week earlier than normal. “That was important they got together pretty early and they’ve trained really well together. The signs are good.
“Until you get them together in a competitive game you don’t know but they have both fitted in seamlessly. All the new guys, to be fair, look pretty good.”