Luke Gale believes Castleford’s defensive strength will be the catalyst for a successful end to the Super League season.
The Tigers’ attack has drawn plenty of praise this season, but Gale insists their place at the top of the table is down to the work they’ve done in defence.
“We’re in a good place – it was real tough performance on Friday against Leeds,” said Gale. “I thought our defence were outstanding in tough conditions.”
“We worked on it a lot more in pre-season and knew going into this year we had the attacking team to trouble anyone, but it’s our defence that’s really going to put us up there.
“I think we’ve proved we’ve got the best defence in the competition looking at points conceded and stuff like that, so it’s worked for us.”
Last week’s result left Castleford seven points clear at the top of the standings, but Gale says the team’s eagerness to improve is driving them on to even greater heights.
“We’re in an environment that keeps improving every time – the coaches we’ve got here make sure we improve every single day.
“You learn something new and ‘Powelly’ (Daryl Powell) is always pushing you to do little things. Even today we’ve done something I’m probably not comfortable with, but he’s saying ‘no just have a go at it’.
“You’re learning every day here and it’s a great environment for that.”
In addition to Super League glory Gale has set his sights on the World Cup in Australia later this year. He played in England’s recent warm-up victory over Samoa and is keen to be successful when the tournament gets underway.
“It’s an exciting time for rugby league and the english game in general,” said Gale. “We’ll go down there and hopefully come back with a World Cup and I think it’s definitely possible.
“It was a massive game out there and the media kind of wrote us off against Samoa. It’s a massive stage – a bit of a pressure cooker – but it’s exciting times and I’m really looking forward to it.”
Cas have lost twice against Hull this season including a recent defeat in the last eight of the Challenge Cup and head coach Powell acknowledges his team will need to be at their best this weekend.
“They’ve beaten us twice, so we’re not going to be lacking any motivation,” said Powell.
“It’s clearly a big game for both teams – we’re at home, but we’re mindful of where Hull are strong against us and the areas that we haven’t quite managed well enough.
“We need to play really well and I don’t think we’ve done that yet against them – we haven’t been good enough to beat them and that’s something we clearly need to fix up.
“I think everyone is aware of how good we need to be this week.
“We’re in a good place and we want to keep driving our way up, but making sure we’re in a good place at the top of it.”