Castleford’s goalkicking winger Kirk Dixon (pictured) will miss the first six weeks of the new campaign with a torn calf.
The 28-year-old suffered the injury during a training session with Premiership soccer club Everton.
“We were training with Everton and doing some sprint work when I felt it go,” Dixon said.
“There were only 10 minutes of the session left.”
The injury comes on the eve of the Tigers’ opening Super League game against Warrington on Sunday and is the latest setback for the former Hull player, who was out for seven months last year with a neck injury.
He also suffered a season-ending shoulder injury in 2011 and spent six months out of the game in 2009 with a blood clot which threatened to end his career.
“These things seem to creep up every now and then and come at the wrong time,” he said at Castleford’s pre-season media day.
“I’ve gone seven months of rehab with my neck and played two friendlies so I was just getting some confidence and game time back.
“It’s quite demoralising. You’ve done the full pre-season and you are raring to go. You want to be out with the boys, you don’t want to be sat in the stand there watching.
“There is no bigger game than Warrington away so it’s a hard one to take.
“But I’ve just got to deal with it. I’ll crack on and get back as quickly as possible. There’s a long way to go. I’ll do the right things and try to get back quicker than they say.”
Castleford coach Ian Millward said: “I really feel for him. He is our best goal-kicker so there is no doubt it is a blow for us.
“He’s also very influential. He’s one of the people on our leadership group.
“But we’re on top of it. He’s positive. He’s a really good trainer and he’s got a really good attitude.”
With a trimmed-down squad of 24, the loss of Dixon has come at a bad time for the Tigers as they prepare to face the Grand Final runners-up and pre-season title favourites.
Castleford are also without prop Steve Nash, who has a leg injury, and Millward will give new signing Jordan Tansey a late fitness test before finalising his team.