Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell has spoken about the importance of making a good start to the new season against Catalans Dragons.
The Tigers are looking to make a winning start when they host the French club at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Friday night and Powell is looking to see whether the hard work of pre-season will pay immediate dividends against opponents who won the Challenge Cup in 2018.
He said: “It helps to have a good start to the season.
“It’s not disastrous if you lose, but we’re at home, we want to play well against a pretty competitive team.
“It’s important to get a good start. I’d like to see us get out of the blocks quickly. It breeds confidence, not only within the team, but with the club as well and the fans.
“We want to have a good feel about the place when we’re rocking up to play.
“We didn’t get a great start last year and we were still in and around the top end so it’s not the be all and end all, but I’d much prefer to see us win this game and make a good start.”
Powell continued: “We need to get in the games and find out where we’re at.
“I thought we had a good game against Leeds. They had the marquees out there and we did a good job. We lost our grip on the game in the second half, but we managed to hang on. In the first half there were some hugely promising signs. We were really accurate with the ball and scored some pretty smart tries for our points.
“If our goalkicking’s a little bit better then we win that game with a little bit to spare.
“I’m just looking forward to it now. You can see in the players, they are fed up of training without an outcome at the end of the week so they are really looking forward to this.”
Powell is expecting Catalans to provide a stiff opening test for his players.
He explained: “Sam Tomkins is a big signing for Catalans and Matty Smith gives them another good player, although Drinkwater was excellent for them last season.
“Matty Smith gives them a really good kicking game - a long kicking game as well.
“Tomkins gives them a lot of experience and he’s reinvented himself as a player as well.
“But they’re a good team anyway and have a good squad. They’re big and physical.
“Losing Greg Bird is a bit of a blow for them, but they are the same as ourselves, you just have to crack on with it.”
Castleford will be without Luke Gale, Oliver Holmes, Jamie Ellis and Will Maher for the opening game, but Ben Roberts and Greg Eden have recovered from the injuries that ruled them out of the recent Leeds pre-season game.