Matt Pritchard spoke to James Clare about Castleford Tigers build-up to the 2020 Super League season and his battle with Sosaia Feki for his wing spot in the season opener.
Incumbent Castleford Tigers winger James Clare knows he’s up for a challenge to retain his role on the wing for the season opener with NRL recruit Sosaia Feki recruited by the club.
“It’s going to be tough. I’m fighting for a spot against a NRL Grand Final winner in Sosaia Feki but I’ll give it my all either way”, James Clare told nothingbutleague.com.
“Feki has settled in nicely. He’s still working everything out but I’m confident he’s just going to get better and better.”
Clare turned out twenty-nine times for the Cas last season, going on to score fourteen tries which included a hat-trick at Wakefield Trinity. He acknowledges there is depth in the Tigers 2020 squad.
“We’ve got some incredibly talented outside backs at the Castleford Tigers and for me it’s just about being the best I can possibly be. Improve as much as I possibly can during preseason and give myself the best possible chance of a starting shirt come round 1.”
“A big focus for me this year is my speed. Speed is key in the modern game. Footwork plays a big part in being faster. So I’ve been working on what I do with my feet in certain situations on how best to move. And obviously doing a little extra work in gym for my power output.”
The Tigers have been working hard during the pre-season to mount a serious challenge for the Super League crown.
“The vibe this year so far has been that of excitement. We’ve had a few new guys come into to the team who have all started training with points to prove and that’s lifted everyone around them.”
“I’ve seen it before when some guys come into a new team and they’re nervous so they just go under the radar while they get comfortable.”
It’s been no walk in the park during the pre-season training for the club that made it to the Super League playoffs this year.
“Preseason is tough and you have to physically and mentally go to some dark places at times. It is completely different to regular training during the season because you can do so much more. Get some heavy miles through everyone’s legs and do back to back tough days.”
“Everyone’s wakes up tired and sore but you have to find something to keep going and start the new day.
“That’s the kind of things that’ll hopefully make you champions though. All the hard work now that nobody sees. All the togetherness that’s being created between a bunch of blokes doing it for each other. A trust between players that you know your teammate has your back no matter what.”
There’s been a lot of talk about the signature of St Helens’ Danny Richardson and what he will bring to the club.
“In particular Danny Richardson has really stood out for me. For a younger halfback who’s come into the team and not only been learning new team mates but new plays and structures he’s just been awesome so far.”
“He has really taken a control of things and that’s just what we need after the departure of Luke Gale.”
It will be Richardson’s old club that will be the team to beat in 2020, but the biggest threat could come elsewhere.
“Our biggest opponent are actually ourselves. We know we can beat St Helens and the other top teams. We just need to be able to do it during the bigger games on the bigger stages. And that lies in our own heads.”
Castleford’s pre-season campaign starts on Boxing Day when they face Bradford Bulls at The Jungle. They face newcomers Toronto Wolfpack as part of the double header at Emerald Headingley Stadium on Sunday February 2.