Thumbs up as veteran Lynch '¨sets out on new campaign

HE jokes that the scars came courtesy of a shark attack off Blackpool Beach only to retract that and claim it was a savage dog as that is 'more believable'.

Andy Lynch.

The upshot of it all is one of Andy Lynch’s hands looks a little gruesome after all the surgery on it during the off-season.

Nevertheless, a week later than his colleagues, the veteran Castleford Tigers prop will get his 18th campaign up and running tomorrow against Wakefield Trinity.

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He has always been a durable sort and it is one of the reasons why head coach Daryl Powell did not think twice about handing the former Great Britain prop another deal this week that will take him towards his 38th birthday.

“I had my thumb fused originally. There’s a plate in there but a screw when through the bone,” Lynch told The Yorkshire Post.

“There were a couple of complications from that previous operation which needed sorting out.

“The soreness has almost gone now, though, and I’ll be ready Sunday. I’ll just get it padded up.”

As much as they will be strengthened by his return, Castleford, who drew 16-16 at Hull KR in Sunday’s campaign opener, will be wary of Wakefield’s own threat tomorrow.

They may have lost to Widnes Vikings in their first game last week but the hosts will recall how Trinity ventured to Wheldon Road on the opening day of last season and somehow snatched a dramatic victory.

Granted, they won just two more regular Super League games all season, only secured their top-flight place in the ‘Million-Pound Game’ versus Bradford Bulls and are tipped by many to struggle again this time around.

However, Lynch expects Castleford’s fierce rivals to be more challenging in 2016 especially after they recruited Tigers half-back Liam Finn.

“They’ve definitely signed really well and with Brian Smith they are going to improve,” he said, in relation to Wildcats’ experienced Australian coach, who arrived mid-season last year.

“With the knowledge he has, being such a quality coach at the highest level for so long, he will make them a better side.

“With Finny in there to direct them around, allied to the calming influence we knew at Cas, he will be a massive factor for them.

“He’ll be playing behind some good go-forward, too, with Anthony England having started well at prop after his switch from Warrington. Then they have a couple of guys in from the NRL in Anthony Tupou and Tinirau Arona so it is going to be a tough challenge.

“We’re looking forward to it, though; it’s our first home game of the year and a derby, too.”

Castleford, of course, are without luckless captain Michael Shenton, who suffered a serious knee injury at KR following a tackle that courted controversy.

Rovers are furious John Boudebza subsequently received a ban of any sort let alone four games but Tigers’ only concern is the expected absence of their England centre for at least six months.

“To lose your captain in the first game of the season is just very disappointing,” admitted Lynch, who was a frustrated spectator as Josh Mantellato’s touchline conversion after the final hooter rescued Rovers a point.

“There is going to be a massive void to fill while he’s not available.

“On the positive, Shenny is still around the place and will still have a massive influence on the team; he can mentor those playing in his position, offer advice and will still lead us.

“It’d be a massive boost to have him back come the play-off games fresh and raring to go. It’s something we’ll have to play by ear but let’s hope that’s the case.”

Lynch knows his side must be more clinical tomorrow.

“I thought we controlled that KR game for parts really well but did some dumb things, too,” said the former Hull FC and Bradford Bulls front-row, now enjoying his second spell with Castleford.

“We know we should have won and were disappointed yet, on reflection, there were positives. We have to bounce back against Wakefield and keep improving.”