Despite a disappointing final game with a second half collapse at Wigan and the failure to make the play-offs, Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell believes it has been a good season for his side.
Cas finished six points off the top four, but achieved their first aim of making the Super Eights comfortably and took part in some of the best games of the season to win more fans with their all-action style.
On how the season went Powell said: “We obviously started poorly, but then we were superb and won five straight. We dropped off a little bit, but we’ve had a strong year of stability after losing so many top players at the end of last year.
“Overall I think it’s been a really good season for us.
“We are now ready to take that next step. We have seen a number of players improve and get better.
“We’ve not been too far away. We’ve been fourth and fifth in the last two seasons.”
Powell believes the Tigers can now be seen as genuine contenders.
He said: “I still think everybody sees us as overachievers, which I disagree with. I said to the players I see them as being top line Super League players.
“I disagree with a lot of what is said about Castleford playing above themselves.
“We’ve got players that are pressing for international honours and that is one of the most pleasing things.
“I think we’re a top five team and the challenge is now to be a top four team on a consistent basis.
“We are striving to be a top four team and we are not that far away. The signs are there, the confidence and the positivity in everything that we do and who are at the club.
“We need to learn the lessons from this year in falling just short and then we move on.
“I believe we’ve got a squad that can kick on. There’s quite a bit of improvement within our players.If we get that improvement out of them that takes us to a new level.”