It’s been three long seasons without playoff rugby league for Castleford Tigers and veteran forward Joe Westerman says the team are aware of their own expectations and fans expectations for them to return.
A poor run of form near the end of the season that wasn’t helped by a string of injuries saw Castleford head into the final game of the season with a win or miss out scenario.
The same applied for their opponents, Leeds Rhinos, but it wasn’t to be for Lee Radford’s team with Rhinos securing victory in front of a huge Headingley crowd courtesy of Leeds scoring 14 points in the final ten minutes, including a last minute winner.
Speaking to The Sportsman Rugby League Youtube channel, Westerman has recalled that game and expressed how the Tigers can use it to build, with a particular focus on youth.
“We have pressure on ourselves, we expect to be in them playoffs. Looking at our squad I really believe that we are good enough. I think the young kids that jumped in, especially against Leeds, were outstanding.
“To lose by a try after being in front was pretty gutting so the expectations on us are to be in the top six and see how we go when we do get there.”
As part of their aim to return to the top six for a first time since 2019 Castleford have recruited well and that includes a new starting pair in the halves.
Veterans Gareth Widdop and Jacob Miller have joined from Warrington and Wakefield respectively and the experience that the pair bring will be crucial.
“We’ve got a brand new half-back partnership and I think the squad is looking good. The young kids have really had a dig and they’re better off for another year.
“The hunger is there, we want to go one better and get into the playoffs and once you’re there then anything can happen.”