As part of a new, regular feature, we map out the key things every club must do in the off-season to raise their chances of success in 2017. Our first club in focus is Castleford Tigers.
1. Sort out the Denny Solomona transfer saga
Even if it means him leaving.
In the past, the club has been adamant that the Samoan international will not leave the club. However, reports that Solomona is set to leave the club to join Sale Sharks have now come to the fore again.
Castleford seem reluctant to let the 22-year-old leave the club, which is completely understandable. He is, after all, one of the most spectacular, clinical finishers in Super League history, and should he stay in the sport he will undoubtedly become a poster boy for the club
But if Solomona does have his heart set on leaving the club, they’re better cashing in now and using the money on a good player that could still be on the market at this stage. The likes of Josh Mantellato and Zak Hardaker are still looking for clubs, but the chances are that they won’t be for very long.
Cas need to act fast.
2. Get the long-term absentees ready for the new season
Like many other clubs, Castleford did it tough with injuries last season.
However, the Tigers were perhaps the most unfortunate in the sense that several key stars missed the majority of the season with serious injuries.
Michael Shenton, Ben Roberts and Andy Lynch managed just 18 appearances between them in 2016, which makes Castleford’s fifth-placed finish all the more remarkable.
However, if the club is to fulfil its ambition of securing silverware next year, they need a bit more fortune, and that starts with getting their key players fit for the start of the season, and getting them on the field longer.
There’s an element of luck needed with injuries, which takes things out of Cas’ hands somewhat, but they need to do all they can to get more out of their best players.
3. Sign a forward enforcer
Overall, Castleford’s forwards had a great year.
Grant Millington’s versatility was used to full effect, Junior Moors was nothing short of incredible and Mike McMeeken made great progress in his promising career.
But the Tigers pack could do with an uncompromising forward in their ranks to help them really take the battle to Super League’s ever-growing packs.
Lee Jewitt took on that role somewhat last season, but with him on the move and Frankie Mariano departing too, Castleford need more cover up front.
4. Continue engaging with the community
One of Castleford’s big triumphs in 2016 was their work in the community.
The Tigers seem to have found a winning formula off the field, which resulted in the club’s attendances increasing by over 5% last season.
Now it is important that the club continues that trend. Everything the club does now will have a huge impact on the club’s position once they move into their new stadium, with the club potentially moving into Five Towns Stadium in 2018.
It’s vitally important that the club take a bg following to the new ground, as their potential will undoubtedly grow commercially, which will have an impact on squad resources moving forward.
5. Figure out how to replace Luke Dorn
Daryl Powell is a highly regarded coach, and his capabilities will be put to the test in the next few months as he is tasked with finding a formula to replace the outgoing fullback.
Dorn was a fantastic player, but crucially, he fit into Powell’s style of play, which saw the Tigers get the best out of him over the years.
Finding a player that will seamlessly adapt to Castleford’s attacking mentality will be difficult. They could bring in an outstanding number one, but signing a player that will be able to take on the attacking demands of Dorn might not be as easy.
Greg Eden is one option, but, with Solomona thought to be leaving, Powell has an opportunity to bring in another option.