The opening month of the new Super League season may be over – but Castleford coach Daryl Powell believes it will be a fair while yet before anyone has a true idea of each team’s potential in 2018.
Many were quick to question whether Castleford could replicate last year’s run to the Grand Final in 2018 before a ball had been kicked this season – with those doubters even louder following their opening-night defeat to St Helens.
Yet victory against Salford on Sunday would represent a start of three wins from their opening four games – and Powell insists the table will not properly take shape until at least everyone has played each other once.
He said: “We didn’t lose many games last year so you lose your first game this year, and that’s it, the season is over.
“I’m glad I don’t look at it like that otherwise we’d be in trouble. At the moment, nobody has found their groove – I’m watching Saints at the minute and the kid at the back (Ben Barba) is getting them out of some stuff, but they made a lot of errors last week too.
“Wakefield are winning games consistently but they’ve played the bottom four teams, and I don’t think you’ll know who is where until after a full round of fixtures for everyone.”
Powell also proof of the need to remain hesitant on drawing conclusions lies within his own side’s opening month. The Tigers appear to be gradually finding their form and, following another two-week break – this time due to the weather – they face the Red Devils on Sunday in confident mood.
Powell said: “We always target games in blocks and with Hull KR being off, this is our last game in that first block. If we get three wins from four, we’ll be pretty happy.
“We’ve got a good opportunity at home over the next couple of weeks to get into how we play. To start to get that flow into us, and that accuracy – there were signs of it against Widnes and in particular Hull – lands, and we’ll be difficult to deal with.
“I thought we were really good against Hull. Looking back, it was great to look at that and see that we were only fractions off. With a little bit more detail from us, Hull would have really struggled. We’ve worked on that detail over the last fortnight and if we get that right, we know we’re difficult to defend against.”
Powell confirmed he will be without Greg Eden and Joe Wardle for Sunday’s game. James Clare and Jy Hitchcox are in contention to replace him on Castleford’s left wing.