After sitting out the last league game of the year Castleford Tigers forward Mike McMeeken is raring to go for the big semi-final at the DW Stadium tomorrow night.
McMeeken and his team-mates respect in-form opponents Wigan Warriors, who have just become the first team to achieve a clean sweep of wins in the Super 8s, but they cannot wait to get out on the field for their biggest game of the season with everything on the line.
He said: “It’s a massive game on Friday and we’re all looking forward to it.
“We’ve been pushing ourselves that bit extra in training, expecting more from each other.
“To get to the Grand Final we’ve got a tough task with Wigan in front of us so we can’t afford to play anything but our best.
“We’ve got to prepare well and come game day we’ve got to stick to our game plan and hopefully come away with a win.”
McMeeken believes that the Tigers go into the semi-final in better form than they did last year.
He explained: “We probably weren’t on great form going into the final last year. We got there, but didn’t perform well on the day.
“But I think this year we’ve got some good results behind us and leading into this game we feel confident and feel we are in good shape.
“Wigan are probably the in-form team at the moment, they are eight games undefeated.
“I know they went undefeated through the Super 8s and they are in a bit of form, but personally I think we’re going into the game in a bit of form as well.
“We had a bit of a blip last week, but since the second half of Wigan away in the first game of the Super 8s we’ve hit some form.”
On what the Tigers had learned from last year’s experience when they lost the Grand Final, McMeeken said: “Playing the conditions.
“The atmosphere maybe got the better of us a bit and the occasion got the better of us last year.
“Obviously it was chucking it down with rain and we didn’t handle the conditions well, the ball control wasn’t great from us.
“It’s been a massive learning curve and over the year we’ve developed our knowledge of playing in the rain and just handling the ball better.”