Castleford centre Michael Shenton believes that the Tigers are entering a period of long term progress under the stewardship of Daryl Powell.
Cas finished fifth in Super League last season, and, like many other clubs, suffered a cripplingly long injury list.
Shenton himself was absent for almost the entire campaign with a knee injury sustained in the opening match of 2016.
But he thinks that the injuries created opportunities for other players to step and develop, and that can only be the club’s benefit this year.
“The way the boys dug in, and the character they showed to chase Catalans down and grab fifth, for me made the season a success,” he told Love Rugby League.
“It really built some character for the long run, and you’re not going to win everything every year.
“We’re trying to build something here. It’s not just going to be a one season or two season thing.
“We’re getting ready now to really kick on. Daryl Powell has got the squad he wants. We have got a fantastic squad. There’s great competition for places.
“When you look at it like that, it was disappointing that we didn’t get in the mix, but hopefully for this season, the character that shows stands us in good stead.
“There’s plenty of talent in the spine of our team to get us to where we need to be.”
Shenton believes that the way the club can now attract such star names is another sign of its progress under Powell.
“That’s exciting for us, because it means we can play in different ways,” he said.
“To be able to pull those kinds of players in shows how much the club has grown, and where it’s going to, because that wouldn’t have happened years ago.
“The Zak one is a really good one for us, because I think he’s able to come back and come into this team wanting to come here.
“I know he had other options, but he wanted to come to Cas and play under Daryl Powell, and play at this club, which is great for us.”
Despite his confidence in his coach and the club’s squad, Shenton is reluctant to set any specific goals.
But he knows the importance of a making a good start to the campaign, and making sure that the team defends as well as possible.
“I don’t want to build it up too much, because we’ve still got a bit of preseason to go,” he added.
“We’ve still got a bit of hard work, and some friendlies to go through, and then it’s the big stuff.
“You really want to start the season well. You’ve really got to with the Super Eights. You’ve got to get rolling and get the confidence going, and then kick on from there.
“That’s our goal. If we do that, we can kick on and crack the top four.
“Our defence was way off last year from where we needed to be.
“Of course, the injuries didn’t help that. If we want to be really challenging the top teams, we’ve got to improve that part of our game.”