Castleford Tigers’ season is not won in first two games, insists Daniel Smith

Castleford Tigers' Daniel Smith.  Picture: Tony JohnsonCastleford Tigers' Daniel Smith.  Picture: Tony Johnson
Castleford Tigers' Daniel Smith. Picture: Tony Johnson
SUCCESSIVE defeats may have dampened the mood of excitement among fans around what Castleford Tigers are calling their ‘new era’, but in-house, confidence remains high this can be a successful season.

Castleford’s first competitive match under Lee Radford’s coaching was a surprise home defeat by Salford in Super League round one.

They followed that with a loss at Warrington Wolves last Thursday and have conceded 60 points so far, with only 26 scored.

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It is not the start anyone in Tigers’ camp wanted or expected, but according to front-row forward Daniel Smith, the most important thing now is sticking to their principles.

Radford will take his side to Hull KR, another team yet to get off the mark, in three days’ time and Smith believes if they get their game right it can be the start of a winning run.

Insisting the mood among players is still “positive”, Smith said: “Obviously we haven’t started the season the way we’d have liked to, but I think we’ve started games all right.

“We’ve just had too many errors and too many defensive errors that have led to us conceding points.

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“We are looking to put that right in training and I am sure it will swing sooner rather than later.”

This is a new Castleford side, both on and off the pitch and Smith accepts the turnover in personnel could be a factor, but he stressed nobody is looking for excuses.

He reflected: “I still think we have been in good positions in games, which we should have capitalised on to score points.

“We didn’t and that is something we are looking forward to putting right this week.

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“The season is not won in the first two games; we are putting everything into training and trying to get the wrongs right.”

Radford’s first win, when it comes, will be a special moment and beating the Robins would be particularly sweet for the former Hull FC chief.

Radford replaced Daryl Powell, who had been at the helm since 2013 and guided Tigers to three major finals as well as the league leaders’ shield in 2017.

It has been a big change, but Smith insisted Radford is putting the right systems in place.

“He is a good coach,” said Smith.

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“He has helped me quite a bit already and he has given me the chance to start, which is something I have always wanted to do.

“I really like working under him.

“Coaches bring different styles of play; Daryl was a good coach, he liked attacking and Radders is pretty similar.

“Results don’t reflect how we have trained and I am sure things will turn.”

It may be only round three, but Smith accepts Friday evening’s fixture is a “massive game” for both clubs.

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He pointed out: “Hull KR are none from two as well, so I am sure both teams will be trying their hardest to get the win.

“It is a hard place to go, Hull KR and it will be a tough game, but I am sure if we get things right we should be coming away with a win.

“We just need to get the monkey off our back and build some momentum now.”

Smith began his career in the academy system at Leeds Rhinos and made his Super League debut for Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in 2014.

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He moved to Huddersfield Giants the following year and joined hometown club Castleford in 2019.

Twenty three of his 44 Super League appearances for Tigers before this season were as a substitute, but he has started both matches so far this term.

“I have had a big pre-season,” he said.

“It is always something I have wanted to do, but I have played off the bench quite a bit at Cas.

“I don’t mind either role really, but it is always good to start and I think I have started pretty well in these past two games; I have tried getting the team on the front foot.”

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Smith, whose brother Cameron plays for Leeds, feels, at 28, he is now coming towards his peak as a Super league prop.

“I feel like my body has adapted a bit, to be a bit bigger and stronger,” he added.

“I do feel I am coming into my better years.

“Hopefully I can build on every performance and I can show people what I think I can get to.”

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