Castleford Tigers’ pre-season work has been geared up to making the team more resilient in the 2019 Super League campaign, according to head coach Daryl Powell.
The Tigers boss acknowledged that despite strong league campaigns the way the side has finished the last two seasons has been disappointing and he wants to toughen the players up mentally for the challenge ahead in 2019.
The recent short camp on a remote farm in Cumbria was part of those plans and Powell is pleased with the way things are going.
He told the Express: “The boys have worked hard and we’ve had some eventful bits.
“We went on the camp to Cumbria, which was pretty tough and different, the boys having to do some things that will have challenged them a lot.
“We are wanting to be a bit more resilient this year.
“If you look at the end of each of the past two seasons we feel that we haven’t quite been good enough and the Challenge Cup we’ve dipped out of as well.
“We need to be more resilient so going away and doing something that’s out of the comfort zone a little bit can create that.
“The players stayed out overnight, had to light fires, make their own shelters and a little bit of getting woke up early and doing some things that are a little bit uncomfortable.
“The hike we went on had some fantastic views, but the hills just kept on turning up! It was a pretty tough climb.
“Rob Purdham had us on his farm and he had some woodland nearby. It was great and something completely different.
“We go to Lanzarote in January and it’s pretty good over there, you’re preparing for the start of the season. But this was more about steeling us up for what we are going to be faced with in the season.”
Pre-season training has been different in other ways this year as the Tigers look to kick on next year.
Powell explained: “The last two seasons have been done in a certain way and we didn’t think we got our last pre-season quite where we wanted it to be.
“So we wanted to change things a little bit and we have done.
“We’ve got a new conditioner with Jamie Bell this year and he’s doing a good job.
“There is more emphasis on conditioning and we are starting to move forward now into how we are going to be playing the game.
“We’ve trained over at the West Riding County FA headquarters and at Cas High on their 4G pitch and we’ve just started training on grass now.
“It’s awkward when you go from 4G to grass at times so we are just trying to get the balance right where the players are training on good surfaces. For their athletic development that’s paramount.
“We’ve trained pretty well and when we’ve trained with the ball it’s clear that we have got a lot of embedded things in our game. It’s been pretty good so far.”
Castleford return to action against Featherstone Rovers at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Sunday (kick-off 1.30pm), but then only have one more pre-season trial game when they play Leeds Rhinos at Emerald Headingley on Sunday, January 20 (kick-off 3pm).
“We wanted another pre-season game, but we couldn’t fit it in where we wanted to with the teams we were trying to fix up with,” said Powell.
“But we’ve generally with our better players gone with one game anyway so we’ll step things up towards that time and make sure that players are ready to go.”