Tigers to continue improving

Dubbed the rollercoaster side over the past few seasons, it must have been a sigh of relief and happiness for Castleford Tigers coach Terry Matterson, following the announcement that the club had got a precious Super League licence for the forthcoming season in July.nnRelegated twice by their rivals Wakefield, and then promoted twice, the club have finally got the chance to return to the days which saw them reach the Challenge Cup Semi-Final twice, and also within 80 minutes of reaching the Super League Grand Final.nnBut after claiming to have been stuck ‘behind the eight ball’ for the 2008 season with regards recruitment, the Tigers’ boss finally has had the chance to build a side capable of challenging for the top eight.nnWhile that is by no means out of reach in Super League, it would be wise to admit, finishing below that and also above last season’s finish of 12th, could be classed as a season of progression and a step in the right direction.nnWhile they have once again stretched the budget to maximise the quality available within the squad, the number of players at their disposal is once again sparse, despite bringing in a significant amount of players.nnHowever, as shown through recent friendlies, Matterson will not be afraid to delve into the club’s exciting academy system with the likes of Joe Arundel and Jonathan Walker on the fringe of the first team.nnThe club has brought in a trio of overseas stars including controversial star Sione Faumuina from North Queensland Cowboys, who has been issued with a final warning by Matterson, Rangi Chase, a talented stand-off from St George Illawarra, and finally Dean Widders from South Sydney Rabbitohs.nnJoining these are Ryan Hudson, captain for the forthcoming season, and Stuart Jones, who are both ex-Huddersfield stars. Chris Feather from Bradford, Brett Ferres from rivals Wakefield, Kirk Netherton from Hull KR and finally gamble signing, James Ford from National League One side Sheffield Eagles complete the Tigers’ transfer activity.nnBoth Faumuina and Chase have already got the fans excited, playing starring and effective roles in games against Featherstone and Wakefield respectively. nnThere were concerns the Tigers would miss Luke Dorn, their prolific try scorer from last season who has defected to Harlequins, but it seems that Chase is ready to step into the Australian’s shoes, whilst potentially offering the Tigers much more in both attack and defence.nnHis fitness looked a bit shaky to start with but his superbly taken individual effort against Gateshead Thunder on Boxing Day gave a flavour of what to expect from him this season.nnIt is the Tigers’ pack that perhaps looks the most dangerous, as well as the backbone of the side in attack.nnWith Chris Feather looking like he is back to full fitness, and injury problems behind him temporarily in the short-term it would seem, and Mitchell Sargent also making an impact in the front row, this gives the Tigers the perfect platform for the backs.nnThe club have long struggled in this area in the past few seasons.nnLast year the club found themselves overrun in this area, which explains a lot of their defeats.n nBrent Sherwin could be missing for the opening game of the season, but Matterson’s admission that he played Sherwin last season despite not being fit, could have the Tigers’ rivals worried.nnThe Australian scrum-half showed on several occasions what he could do with ball in hand, and a fully fit Sherwin could prove to be the tonic the Tigers need to launch their play-off quest.nnNot forgetting the ever-popular Ryan McGoldrick who now looks to have found a new home at full-back, the Tigers’ starting line-up looks like one that could upset the apple-cart again this season by beating teams like St Helens and Leeds, who were both suffered the same fate last season.nnMark’s final position prediction: 10th in League, Challenge Cup Quarter Finalists.nnKey man to watch in 2009: Rangi ChasennFan ViewnThe Castleford Tigers’ fan view is provided by Kevin:nnIt is difficult to gauge how the 2009 Castleford squad will perform on the field in Super League. On paper it is easy to see why Cas are predicted to struggle by the Sky Sports team and the bookmakers.nnI honestly expected more players on board and with no disrespect to the new recruits – certainly ones of a higher calibre. There are noises coming out of the Tigers that a top eight finish is realistic, in my opinion it will need a superb work ethic by all involved in the Castleford camp and more importantly a positive attitude to run through our players veins to even consider such a feat.nnWe have to keep in mind the performances of other teams over the season, obviously their results as well has our own will have the most influence on the league table. nnI try not to think of injuries, especially to the likes of Joe Westerman and Brent Sherwin. It’s hard enough with a full Tigers squad let alone injuries. nnFinally, there are many like myself who question whether Terry Matterson can mastermind a successful season for Cas in Super League. I certainly hope Matterson has learned from his past experiences which were without doubt demanding from the very start!

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