While admitting it will be a tough task Daryl Powell is aiming to prove doubters wrong again as he looks to mastermind another season of improvement for his Castleford Tigers team.
Coach of the year Powell was delighted to prove so many wrong last year after they predicted the Tigers would be in for a relegation struggle following the loss of star man Rangi Chase.
Now another top star has gone in Man of Steel Daryl Clark, along with several other key players, including Craig Huby, Kirk Dixon, Weller Hauraki and Marc Sneyd, so few are predicting another top four finish and Wembley appearance for Cas in 2015.
But Tigers boss Powell believes if he has got his recruiting right his team can overcome their obstacles again and challenge the big boys once more.
He has seen improvement within the players left over from last year as well and is pleased with the squad at his disposal as he enters a new campaign on Sunday.
He told the Express: “I am pretty happy with the squad I’ve got.
“There’s some players who’ve put themselves forward this pre-season who didn’t do so well last season and that’s been handy.
“There’s going to be some real depth about us this year and there’s going to be competition for places.
“Very few people, if anybody, will know that if they are fit they will be playing.
“It’s going to be about the best 17 for the job every week and it’s obviously my job to manage the group through the year to make sure we get the best out of everybody.
“If we can do that then we can be confident about ourselves and what we can achieve.
“We’ve lost some players, but we’ve brought some good ones in.
“Daryl Clark is a big loss to any team, but we’ve got two pretty good hookers.
“They have big shoes to fill, but they’re very much capable of doing it, albeit in a slightly different way.
“Sometimes you have to play slightly different. We did that when Rangi (Chase) went and we’ll do it again and hopefully we can get the best out of everybody that we’ve got on board.”
Powell has set his sights on a top eight finish and does not think the fact his team will not be surprise packages any more should have any bearing.
He said: “Top eight is only goal we’ve talked about.
“We did that last year. I didn’t hide away from the fact that I wanted to be in the top eight. People doubted whether we would be or not and probably will do again, but it’s important that we set our stall out for top eight.
“It shouldn’t make it more difficult after the season we had last year, only if we don’t work as hard as we did and don’t put the effort in.
“I think we’ll be okay and we’ve got enough players with enough to prove that should keep us focused.”
Powell reckons that all the teams face a more difficult challenge this year with the reduction to 12 teams in Super League certain to make the division more competitive.
He added: “It should be more intense and should be every week.
“That’s what we’ve been talking about wanting in this country for a number of years now and we’ve got it. We’ve got a streamlined competition and hopefully it will bring closer games and big challenges for everybody.
“You look at the fixture list and you are thinking that’s going to be a tough game pretty much every week.
“The challenges will come around thick and fast. You only have to look at our start – Wakefield, Catalan, Saints and Wigan.
“That’s what we want it to be, if our competition’s going to improve and England Rugby League is going to improve.”