Young Player of the year Jake Trueman is looking forward to kicking on after enjoying his breakthrough season with Castleford Tigers.
The 19-year-old announced himself as a Super League player with a hat-trick away to Wigan in 2017, but it was in 2018 that he became a regular starter with the Tigers and produced a succession of impressive displays that earned him the Super League young player of the year crown.
Trueman will be more of a marked man in 2019, but after handling the pressure of filling Luke Gale’s boots last season he is confident he can be a big player for Cas again.
He said: “To be honest, I think it will bring out the best in me. This pressure and the expectation only means that I have to deliver.
“Last year was a bit of a free swing. This season – if I do get picked – I’ve got to perform because I’m one of the main halves in the team. You’ve got to do your job.”
Just 12 months ago, the former Bradford youngster was gearing up for another season with the Tigers’ academy side. Although he trained with the first team back then, this year has certainly been a change of pace for the half-back.
“The training itself has been a bit different this year, probably a little more intense,” admitted Trueman.
“It’s different too because there is expectation. I want to play this year, I want to play more and I didn’t have that as much last year, so I’ve put more pressure on myself.”
Trueman is keen to make up for lost time and forge a key partnership with former Man of Steel Gale, although he is aware he faces competition to become a regular again.
He said: “I want to build some consistency but I’ve got to get ahead of Jamie Ellis, Cory Aston and Ben Roberts first and that’s going to be a tough job.
“Hopefully me and Galey can strike up a partnership with having more games together.
“We can get that consistency, work on it and make it better this year.
Trueman cannot wait to get going on the pitch again and hopes to play in the pre-season game at Leeds Rhinos this month.
He explained: “We’ve had four weeks of hard training and now you’re just ready to play, it’s what we do.
“We’re probably a few weeks off where we need to be, because of the shorter pre-season, but as long as we’re right for the first game in February, we should be good.”
On his and the team’s main objectives in 2019 Trueman added: “Myself, I just want to be involved in most of the games and win one of those main half spots.
“But, for the club, the objective has to be to try and win some trophies.
“To be up there again, competing – we want to win one this year.”