Much was made of Danny Richardson’s move to Castleford ahead of the 2020 season.
A young British halfback to partner fellow British half Jake Trueman was a concoction that delighted Tigers fans.
And, for the period before lockdown, that partnership proved dividends as Castleford ended the first part of the season second in the Super League table following a superb 28-14 home win over St Helens.
But, with the resumption of the season, the Tigers registered just two wins from 11 games which saw the West Yorkshire side slip to eighth – head coach Daryl Powell’s worst year as boss since taking over midway through 2013. The contrast between pre- and post-lockdown was something which Richardson was keen to stress.
“We started the season like a house on fire, but then after lockdown due to things we perhaps couldn’t control or didn’t adapt to too well, we began slipping down the table and we just couldn’t recover,” said the 24-year-old.
“On a personal note, I was happy how I went before lockdown but then I came back and picked up an injury myself and I just didn’t flow as well in the side. It was disappointing.”
Of course, with the Tigers enduring a less-than successful 2020, Powell and his coaching staff have had to change a few things in pre-season.
“I’d definitely say it’s stepped up a notch from last year, the intensity that we’ve been training in is greater than last year as well as the distances we’ve been running.
“It’s been difficult, but that’s going to stand us in good stead for the season.”
With 2020 out of the picture, Richardson is keen to show the Tigers fans what he can really do. And, despite the Rugby League World Cup at the end of 2021, the halfback is eager to just focus on Castleford.
“I just want to play well for Cas, that’s my main goal; I want to have a good pre-season and we’re third of the way through that now.
“I just want to start the season well. Obviously, there’s a World Cup at the end of year but I’m not looking too far ahead.
“I know it’s a cliché, but I’m just trying to take it week by week and obviously just keep playing well.
Powell’s Castleford have won just one trophy in his eight-year tenure – the League Leaders’ Shield in 2017 – and last year was the furthest away from the play-offs they had finished in that time. That has left some pundits to tip the Tigers to struggle in 2021 and end up outside the play-offs once more, but former Saint Richardson reveals that the squad have talked about proving people wrong.
“We talk a lot about our goal of winning the Grand Final or Challenge Cup; we really want to get some silverware.
“That’s what is driving us to be better than last year and I’m excited to see what we can do.”