Castleford Tigers winger James Clare is ready to fight for his jersey once the season restarts.
The 29-year-old has been a regular in the Tigers side this season, but upon his return he will face competition for places with the likes of in-form Derrell Olpherts, Greg Eden, Super League’s top-scorer in 2017, and NRL champion Sosaia Feki, who has yet to make his Tigers’ debut.
But with Clare in good form himself, he’s prepared for the challenge and believes the competition for places will aid Castleford’s title hopes.
“Sosaia Feki and Greg Eden will be back from injury so it’s difficult to think you were in a team, playing well and scoring tries but now your place is up for grabs,” he said.
“But that’s the thing with Castleford’s squad. When you look at it, we’ve got plenty of squad depth. There are other clubs not so fortunate. Toronto sticks out as the smallest, they’ve struggled massively with not having much depth. But we could lose one or two players in any position and we’ve got plenty of backup options.
“It’s just one of those things. Healthy competition is always a good thing; you’ve always got to be looking over your shoulder and everyone is having to do that here to make sure they get their place in the team.”
Clare has been working hard to develop his effectiveness with the ball in recent years, with a particular focus on the size of his workload.
That saw him finish 15th in Super League for both carries and metres made last season. Now, he wants to improve on that further.
“There’s always room for improvement; my yardage has come on from where it was, but there’s always little bits,” he added.
“That’s what Daryl Powell is renowned for, getting the best out of everybody. He can look at someone for five minutes, pick up strengths and weaknesses and give you a plan to improve.
“Ruck speed is my current focus; there are all these complicated stats, but if I can play the ball in two seconds, it only gives the opposition two seconds to retreat and turn around, whereas if it takes me six seconds it gives them a lot more time.
“People just look at the metres you make, but it’s about winning the ruck too. That’s been a big focus with me, not just the quantity of my work, but now adding quality alongside the quantity.”