Assistant coach Danny Orr says Castleford Tigers’ preparations could not have gone better up to now.
Orr and fellow members of the Tigers coaching staff will be putting the finishing touches to their pre-season plans over in Lanzarote next week, but ahead of the trip he spoke about how the players have got through some great work since reporting back for training in early November.
He told the Express: “It’s been one of the good things this year where it’s been a smooth transition from one team to the next, or one year to the next.
“Last year was tough to do. In the end I think we managed it quite well, but this year’s it’s gone really smoothly – probably too smoothly really. You always want a few hiccups! But it’s been good.
“The lads have trained really well, the intensity has gone up on everything they’ve done and the skill level has been good.
“Obviously we’ve kept the nucleus of the team so they kind of know the way we want to play and the things we want to do. We’ve tweaked a few things here and there, but they’ve grabbed hold of it and everyone’s been training very well so we’re really pleased.
“You kind of break pre-season down into blocks. We’ve done the first and we’re in the middle of it now.
“The first bit’s gone really well and we are building towards to start of the season now. You can see the lads every week are getting a little bit better and I’m sure they are looking forward to the games.
“We had one obviously at Christmas time and more through January, which they are ready for now and which will really kick them on into the season.”
Orr believes the club has recruited wisely in the off-season.
He said: “The new lads have fitted in really well with the way we play and with their interaction with the group.
“I think we needed to freshen up the outside backs a bit. We need to keep putting some pressure on the players we have got there and the players we’ve signed are all exciting.
“Rocky Hampshire is quick, he’s energetic and he’s keen to progress. He will put pressure on the established players we have at half-back and he’s settled in really well.
“We all know what Crooksy can do. Obviously he had a great year at Hull the other year and we’re looking to get him back to that sort of form that he showed.
“Probably nobody knows anything of Greg Minikin, but as an outside back I truly believe he can be anything. He’s got a lot of attributes, a great attitude and can go far in the game. He’s learning off two good centres, who are in front of him at the moment, and can only benefit from this.
“Obviously Joel Monaghan everybody knows about and what kind of player he is.
“He’s one of the older lads in the team, but he’s been fantastic already in what he’s brought to the squad. He’s experienced and his energy for playing and enthusiasm has added to us. He doesn’t miss a thing and just the way he goes about things is really good and a pleasure to watch.
“They’ve all brought some energy to the team and I’m looking forward to seeing them play.”