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Castleford Tigers ‘won’t be challenging for two to three years’, per Craig Lingard

Castleford Tigers head coach Craig Lingard

Castleford Tigers have suffered a run of difficult seasons. They finished the 2023 season in 11th position, which came off the back of back-to-back 7th place finishes in 2021 and 2022, and a ninth place finish in 2020. 

However, you do not have to look too far back for a time when Castleford were regularly competing for honours at the top of Super League. Most famously, the Tigers lifted the League Leaders’ Shield in 2017, only to be denied by the Leeds Rhinos in the Grand Final that year.

The Tigers have had a difficult start to the 2024 season. However, they now appear to be finding a better groove under head coach, Craig Lingard. Having won just once in their opening eight games, the Tigers now have three wins and one draw after 12 games. They face a crucial game against the Leeds Rhinos this season as they attempt to salvage something from the season.

Quiz: Can you name all these former Castleford Tigers players?

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Lingard believes Castleford Tigers are some way off challenging

Castleford Tigers

Credit: Imago Images

Castleford have completed some mid-season transfers, such as Tex Hoy joining the club after leaving Hull FC, and he has added a lacking spark to their attack.

However, Lingard believes Castleford remain some way off re-capturing the glory days of old. Speaking to BBC West Yorkshire Sport, he stated he believes it could be several years before the Tigers are ready to challenge at the top of Super League again.

“If players want to be winning something over the next 12 months, it’s not going to be a Castleford. We’re not going to be challenging the top end of the table at Castleford, realistically.

“We’ve got this two or three-year journey where we’re going to be, where we’re hopefully then going to be at the end of that period that we’re going to be challenging in a top six. Then we might be challenging for honours, but we’re not quite there at the minute.”

Transfer market posing challenges

Castleford Tigers

Credit: Imago Images

Lingard belives that the transfer market is posing a problem to teams such as Castleford. Players are commanding higher salaries, given the competition for signings, which makes it difficult for teams with smaller budgets to compete. As such, certain players are out of Castleford’s reach.

“With the market being as it is, some of the players are commanding a lot of money. Once one player is out there, there’s going to be four, five, six clubs that are going to be fighting for them.

“So it’s going to be difficult for us as a club at the minute, bearing in mind where we are in our transition and our journey to attract these players.” Lingard said.

“We’ve got to understand that certain players might be out of our reach because of where they are in their career, so that sometimes limits the players that are available to us as well.”

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