CASTLEFORD TIGERS coach Daryl Powell says his team are “together and united” with just one week to go until they kick off their Betfred Super League campaign.
A report in national newspapers yesterday - the day of Betfred Super League’s official launch at Old Trafford - alleged Tigers’ recent pre-season camp in Lanzarote became a “farce” after a “confrontation” between players.
The claims were alluded to by Sky Sports presenter Brian Carney, who was master of ceremonies at the competition launch, when he introduced Powell with the question: “Been away anywhere?”
That was met with good-natured silence from Powell and the Tigers coach declined to comment on the allegations during media interviews - though he insisted his side are in good shape ahead of next Friday’s season-opener at home to Catalans Dragons.
Of the newspaper report, Powell said: “There’s no comment from me.
“I was really pleased when I watched the team play on Sunday against Leeds. We looked like a team that’s together and united.”
Tigers won 26-24 in Kallum Watkins’ testimonial game after racing into an 18-4 lead inside half an hour.
Asked if Tigers are where he would like them to be with a week of pre-season remaining, Powell said: “I think so.
“We had a great camp in Lanzarote, we’ve come back and beaten Leeds in our only pre-season game and I thought we were outstanding in the first half.
“I thought some of the stuff we put together with the ball was great.
“I would like to see us improve a bit defensively, but overall I think we are in a good place.
“We want to make sure over the next week everyone is absolutely ready.
“I have got to pick a 17 that’s going to take the field, I am pretty close to that and then we will get on with it.”
Tigers will be without former Man of Steel Luke Gale, who is likely to miss the entire season due to a torn Achilles and Oliver Holmes and Will Maher were also ruled out earlier in pre-season. Ben Roberts did not play against Leeds and Jamie Ellis has also been receiving treatment.
Powell said: “Benny is coming back from a lower back problem and he is in full training at the moment.
“Greg Eden has got a little bit of something, but I am hoping he will be all right for next week.
“We have got a week to go and he should be okay and apart from that we are not too far away.”
Tigers have just one new face in their squad, Jordan Rankin having been brought in as part of a swap deal which took Joe Wardle to Huddersfield Giants.
Powell said: “We’ve played against Leeds with all their signings in and we’ve got a few boys to slot back into that.
“We are all right, I’d say most coaches would want to get to a point where they’ve got stability in their squad and you’re not having to change too much.
“I think we are at that, the boys are good, we’ve got a good squad and good players in every position. We want to improve all of our players and if we do that, that’s what coaching’s about.
“It’s not always about plucking someone from somewhere else, it’s about getting the best out of the people you’ve got and in a salary cap sport there are obvious boundaries as well.
“We are in a good spot. I am not worried about the recruitment side of it, Jordan Rankin has fitted in straight away and I expect him to have a big year with us.”