England forward Adam Milner believes Castleford Tigers have put down a marker for the new season.
Last year’s third-placed finishers kicked off their new Betfred Super League campaign with a hard-fought home win over Challenge Cup holders Catalans Dragons.
In freezing conditions the Tigers were not at their most fluent in attack, but defended solidly and Milner reckons the performance will send them into tonight’s second game at Hull in good heart.
He said: “You never know where you’re at, first game of the year, but I think we’ve set a decent marker down there.
“We were up against a decent Catalans side, they are a big, physical set and we showed we can match it with them.”
Cas conceded just one try despite coming under pressure against Catalans and Milner felt that was the most encouraging aspect of last week’s opener.
He said: “We were on the wrong side of the penalty count and the amount of time we were scrambling and defending our line was really impressive. To keep them to four points was a good start defensively for us.
“We are known as a good offensive team, but it’s the other side of it that was pleasing.
“We have worked a lot in pre-season on our defence, we want to be the best in that area and we have definitely put a foot in the right direction with the defensive performance.”
A key objective for the Tigers early in the year is to prove they can play well and win without injured star Luke Gale and Milner was encouraged by the new half-back partnership of Jordan Rankin and Jake Trueman.
He added: “We missed Galey for the majority of last year and he is a massive loss for us, but I always go back to 2016 - the year before we got to the Grand Final. We were down on numbers then and we ended up having a half-decent season.
“It just shows no matter who comes in, in any position they are willing to put their hand up and do a job.
“Jordan did a good job (against Catalans). I think he is enjoying it. He came straight into it in Lanzarote and he has fitted straight in. I think he’s one who, with a few more games under his belt, will come to grips with how we play.
“He defended well and it was a really positive start for us.”