Former star player and current assistant coach Danny Orr reckons Castleford Tigers have assembled their best squad for some time to go into a new season.
Orr is well placed to judge the merits of the current line-up, having made 245 first team appearances for Cas over nine years in two spells at the club and having been assistant coach since 2013.
He is not making any predictions where the Tigers will finish in the coming season, but believes the 2016 vintage has the ability and squad depth to be real challengers.
He told the Express: “Last year and the year before that the guys did a fantastic job, but looking at the way they’ve adapted to the things that we want I think it’s probably the healthiest we’ve been as a squad for a number of years.
“Obviously you may get injuries, but we’ve got depth there and there’s also the depth where people are pushing each other for that shirt.
“No-one’s got a God given right to be in this team now because there’s somebody always chasing them.
“Hopefully that will keep people on their toes and pushing them and their game forward. That’s what we’re after.
“I’m looking for every player to have a big season and they all have a part to play. As a group we need to pull together and we are looking forward to having a good, solid year.
“You just don’t know how high you are going to finish before a season. Every team is hopeful that first of all they will be in the eight, although most teams will be saying they want top four and there are a handful of teams that realistically can go out and win a trophy.
“What we’ve done in recent years is cement our place in the top eight. We want to do that again, but we generally see ourselves as a top four team and if we can do that then anything is possible for us.
“That’s what we are aiming for, but every team will probably give the same answer.”
Orr is keen to see the Tigers get off to a winning start at Hull KR on Sunday after they ultimately gave themselves too much ground to make up last year.
He said: “We need to make a better start this time. Last year we were zero from three, which wasn’t ideal.
“We’ve got a very tough ask to start with. Three of our first four games are away and we have two trips to Hull and a game at Saints in there. But you’ve got to play them at some point and we want to get off to a good start.
“At the start of the season everybody’s fresh, raring to go and really excited about the season ahead so every game’s a tough one.
“You don’t know yet who’ll be our big rivals, but you’ve obviously got Leeds who were outstanding last year, Wigan, Saints, Catalans, Warrington, who dropped off a bit last year and will be keen to bounce back, and Hull, who’ve recruited well.”