CASTLEFORD TIGERS scrum-half Luke Gale has identified a fast start to Super League 2016 as a key aim, although he insists the Tigers are “miles ahead” of where they were at this time last year.
Castleford lost their first three games in 2015 before eventually securing a fifth-placed finish, but Gale believes that a quicker start is pivotal if they are to challenge for the top four again this season.
The Albert Goldthorpe Medal winner admits he’s encouraged by what he’s seen so far from his team, and he sees a big year ahead for the Tigers.
“It was a really disappointing start last year,” Gale told League Express.
“For the first three rounds it just wasn’t clicking, and we had some strong words with each other asking what was going on.
“We then pumped Wigan in round four and it all clicked after that. We went through patches where we were a bit up and down and consistency is what we need to find throughout 2016.
“The start is huge; we had Wigan in the fourth game last year and if we’d lost that, who knows what would have happened. We need to come out of the blocks flying, starting with Hull KR in week one. Last year we were a team with ten new faces so it was always going to be hard.
“I’ve come back in three weeks ago and we’re miles ahead of where we were this time last year. We’ve got a couple of new additions who have freshened us up, I can see that.”
Gale enjoyed a successful year in 2015; he was in the Super League Dream Team, won the Albert Goldthorpe Medal and made Steve McNamara’s England squad – although he didn’t feature in any of the four games played against France and New Zealand.
“2015 went great but I want an even better year. I want to get the international shirt on and get in the squad again. It didn’t quite work out at the end of last year, but it’s made me even hungrier to get in the team.”
Gale also admitted he’s expecting Castleford to be dismissed by the experts again and they’re looking forward to proving people wrong once more.
“We’ll still get written off again this year, no doubt.
“It doesn’t bother us though; what people think is irrelevant, because we’ll come out and we’ll prove we are a good side. Our consistency has been lacking, but we’ll go under the radar and we’ll surprise a few teams again.
“Our goal is the top four though, and there’s no reason why we can’t do it.”