Castleford Tigers are where they want to be ahead of the start of the new season next week, according to head coach Daryl Powell.
The Tigers boss is pleased with the way preparations have been going and believes the team are just about ready to go for the opening game st St Helens on Friday, February 2.
He said: “I think we’re close. The signs are good, the boys know what they’re doing and they are in a bit of a groove in how we play the game.
“We’ve just got to deliver when it comes down to the start of the season.
“Saints away is a tough game to start with, but everything I’ve seen from the players has been positive and I think the players are ready to go.”
Powell believes the players have come out of the week’s warm weather training in Lanzarote in good shape.
He said: “It wasn’t that warm to be honest, 17 or 18 degrees, but the change of environment is great.
“What happened last year when we came out of the camp is that we looked at each other and thought we’re ready to go - and we’ve got that same feeling again.
“Everything we did was top quality and the players were great, really well disciplined and focused on getting better, which we asked of them when we went over there.
“We got everything out of it and we’re in a good place I think.”
Powell was pleased with what he saw from his players back home in testing conditions in the cold, snow and rain in the main pre-season trial against Leeds Rhinos.
He said: “It was difficult because it was the first game for the majority of the players who took the field so you are always trying to find your groove and then for it to be in such tough conditions it’s very hard.
“But I thought we handled it all right. It was pretty scrappy at times, but we did some smart things.
“When the ground was a little bit better at the start we looked sharp and scored a couple of smart tries.
“We started really well, that’s probably the most repeat sets we’ve ever got from our kicking game so there’s some positives in there. I thought generally we defended well, our tryline defence was pretty solid.
“Obviously the surface was difficult to play rugby league on, you needed fair old studs to stay on your feet out there, but we’ll get a lot from it.
“We did something that perhaps we didn’t do very well in the Grand Final – we kicked the ball well.
“Our kicking game was excellent. We turned the screw on Leeds.
“It was very difficult to get clean handling plays in there, but we did a good job in really tough conditions.
“We won the game. I know it doesn’t get you anything, but you want to be in the mindset of winning games.”
Powell praised his forwards for their display against the Rhinos.
He added: “We had some good performances out there.
“I thought James Green started outstandingly well and he had a good second stint. Nathan Massey was really strong and Joe Wardle did some good things, as a lot of our pack did.”
All the senior members of the first team squad – apart from Greg Minikin and Gadwin Springer, who are recovering from injuries – have now had a pre-season run out with just one more warm-up left at Newcastle on Saturday.
For the game at the Kingston Park Stadium, Powell will select a mix and match side of first team players and youngsters.
He confirmed: “There will be some first team players against Newcastle, but if I’m nailed on a player for the St Helens game he’s not going to play this week.”