Castleford Tigers' Australian second row, Grant Millington is the star of The BIG Interview in Sunday's matchday programme, Black & Amber.
In an exclusive interview he reveals his thoughts on his start to the season, the arrival of Lee Jewitt and today's opposition.
In part one of the chat to ‘Millo' we ask about his teammates, why the Tigers have started so well, Justin Carney's ban and the Tetley's Challenge Cup.
To read more from Millington, grab your copy of Black & Amber at Sunday's game, or buy a print or digital version online here.
Grant, you are one of quite a few players who have started the season really well, aren't you?
Our forward pack has been outstanding; Craig Huby and Andy Lynch have been really good, but guys like Oli Holmes, who don't get the accolades that some of the other boys do, have been excellent. ‘Oggy' is in a spell at the moment where anyone who runs at him gets put on their backside - he's been really good for us.
Are you able to pick out any of the key features of some of the boys that have been playing well around you?
Lynchy's got a good head on him and he knows when we're getting away from the game plan sometimes, he can just get us forward and take a carry; Chubbs likes to play with the ball and offload; Weller Hauraki has aggressive line running and he's got that long ball to the winger if he needs it - that's just our forward pack. Our backs are doing a great job off the back of what our forwards are doing. It's been a great team environment to play in so far.
How much of the improvement can be put down to mentality?
It's down to individual attitude and mentality, but that's instilled in you from pre-season by the coaching staff with all the drills we do. Some of the fitness things we do probably don't relate to being on a rugby field, but it's about having the right attitude and getting through things together. Credit has to go to the coaching staff and our strength and conditioning coach, Ben Cooper; we're a lot fitter this year compared to the last couple of years and it's obviously showing by us getting through the back end of games.
Is having improved fitness level going to be of significant importance going into another period of tough games?
There are a few massive games coming up and the way that we look after ourselves is a big thing but we're pretty well prepared. If we keep being smart about the way we go about our fitness, our games and our recovery, then physically we'll be in top condition. We've then got to come prepared with the right attitude and I think that we can knock a few sides off again.
As a close friend of Justin Carney, can you give an insight as to how he was feeling after the incident against Widnes Vikings that resulted in him being handed a two-match suspension?
I was on the bench at the time of the fight and he was pretty quiet when he came off; I think he knew that he might be in a bit of trouble and one of the first things that he did was apologise to the boys alongside me on the bench for being put in the bin and whatever would come after that. One of the things about Justin, and I think it's one of the reason that everyone loves him, is that he gives 100% in anything he does and that little thing on the field was evidence that he put 100% into what happens on the field too.
After today's game, there are back-to-back games with Wigan Warriors, beginning with the Tetley's Challenge Cup quarter-final; how does it feel being so close to a potential Wembley final?
It's definitely an achievable target and the more I think about it the more nervous I get about what a great opportunity that it is. I've got a little bit of experience so I can switch off to it. It's going to be massive and all the boys are really looking forward to it.
I was talking to Chubbs and I asked him ‘what would you rather win, the Super League or the Challenge Cup?' and he said ‘Challenge Cup' straight away. We don't have it back home and personally I think the Super League competition is the big one, simply because you work all year towards that aim. But the Challenge Cup is obviously massive for the English boys here, as well as the club and the fans; everyone in the club is going to do everything that they can to come away with the win next week, which would be enormous for the town.
Being an Australian, do you think that a similar idea should be adopted over there?
I think the Challenge Cup is a great concept and I would love for it to happen in Australia; I don't think they ever would though because the players over there are complaining about how many games they play in a season. But I think it's great, not only for the Super League clubs but for the clubs in the leagues below too as they can come through and have a crack at the big sides and see how they go. It's enjoyable and it's one of those things where you might not be having the best year, but it's a chance of lifting some silverware.
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