Daryl Powell has backed his players to prove they have the mentality to win the Grand Final in 2019.
The Tigers coach was critical of his side’s mentality in the high-pressure games at the end of last season as they fell short in the play-offs once again.
Powell said at the time the Tigers needed a “mindset change”, something they would be working on during the off-season.
However, having attempted to address the issue, he is now calling on his squad to show they have overcome their previous shortcomings.
“The group mentality needed to change,” he said.
“That has to come from somewhere and the place to start is your leadership group. We spoke about a few things right at the start of pre-season from my perspective and the players perspective. Since then we’ve trained hard and a bit differently. We went on an ugly camp to Cumbria where we stayed out to build a challenge mentally.
“We discussed what had happened to us the previous year. I gave them my perspective on it when we went to Harrogate. I presented to the players a different environment and we discussed it in an open forum.
“But we’ll just have to see where we are in the season now. We think we’ve got what we need, I thought the signs were promising against Leeds, and now the stage is set for us.”
A low-profile recruitment drive has left some questioning Castleford’s aspirations amid a raft of overseas talent joining their main rivals.
“But most coaches would want to get to a point where they feel comfortable with the squad that they’ve got and that everyone is embedded,” Powell was keen to stress.
“The other thing is that we’re a salary cap sport and can’t just go and sign whoever we want. I’m happy with what we’ve got, I think we’ve got a high quality squad and I’m looking forward to the challenges ahead.
“The key is to get the best out of the players you’ve got. That’s coaching, it’s not signing players from all over the place.”
Meanwhile, Powell admitted he would love to see some of his players finally get international call-ups.
The likes of Liam Watts and Paul McShane have seen calls for selection fall on deaf ears by selectors, but Powell is hungry to see that change in order to give the Tigers more recognition.
“I think it’s a judge of your environment, coaching staff and the player. But even if that’s right, I still think there’s selection by a third party which you can do nothing about.
“We’ve got a lot of players who are fairly close who need to make some small changes to their game to get where they need to be. People like Liam Watts, Paul McShane and Mike McMeeken are all around that. Michael Shenton, to me, is still international quality. But it’s a third-party decision, but I’ve a few players I think can make that next step.
“International selection is one of those that comes down to an opinion. You have to respect that.”