Castleford loose forward Nathan Massey has unequivocally stated that the team spirit at the Tigers under Daryl Powell remains as strong as ever.
While Castleford were not free of controversy in the close season, with Justin Carney departing the club in difficult circumstances, the team is as united as ever, according to Massey.
“It’s just a great place to be, if I’m honest,” he told Love Rugby League.
“Everybody enjoys coming into training, everybody gets on with each other.
“You basically get to spend time with your mates.
“Sometimes people get a bit irate, but everybody’s mates and loves coming into training.
“I think that’s the main thing you can see throughout our squad.”
Massey attributes the responsibility for generating that spirit to Powell, who he rates as possibly the finest coach with whom he has worked in his career.
“I’ve never really had another coach like him,” he said.
“You really feel like you are getting properly coached.
“I’ve had good coaches before, but he just seems to bring the best out in everybody who works underneath him.
“He’s a great coach and a good bloke too.”
They have also started to beat the top teams in Super League on a more regular basis than in previous years, and Massey is hopeful that the Tigers can continue their progress in 2016.
“I’d like to think so, but obviously our first focus is the start to our year, and getting some wins inder our belts,” he explained.
“We started slowly last year but, fingers crossed, people see us now as a real contender in this league.
“They probably haven’t previously before.
“We’ve been close two years in a row now, so hopefully this year we can take it one step further.”
Greater consistency will be key to ongoing success, Massey believes.
“We probably just need to get a little bit more consistency with that,” he said.
“[When we were] playing against the so-called big teams, we were sometimes on and then sometimes a little bit off.
“Obviously, teams like Leeds, who have done the treble, are on it all the time.
“We need to kick on and be consistently good against those sort of teams.
“We’ve got heaps of skill in this team, but sometimes the defence does let us down.
“We’ve done quite a lot of work on our contacts and wrestle and things like that.
“Hopefully, it’s going to put us in good stead for this year.”