Tigers’ Xmas Camp signs off 2020

Posted: Thursday 24th December 2020 - 11:55 AM

This week marked the return of the Tigers First Team to training in a short “Christmas camp” for what will be their final action of 2020. 

A key part of this camp was the recent ‘Pit Shift’ - a gruelling 12-hour training day incorporating their usual fitness regimes alongside orienteering, team-work and a whole host of other challenges designed to push the players outside their comfort zones and encourage them to recognise what many Fords fans past and present will have experienced in working in the coal pits surrounding Castleford.

Being born in Pontefract, and after a combined fifteen years with the club, Captain Michael Shenton is no stranger to Castleford’s history, and he spoke about how important industry has been for the community and his own personal ties to the area:

“[Mining] is twinned with the area, my family has been involved in the mining industry for a long time while it was prevalent here, so it means a lot to me to be able to talk about the heritage, what it means to the people of Castleford and the town, and the personal ties to myself. 

“It’s a hardworking town and it’s what we mean to the town and what the town means to us, and having that relationship going forward, and making sure that we, as a team, can buy into those standards, work hard and echo those values that we see in our community.”

With it being the middle of December, the team was assembled from quarter to five in the morning with a dark and rainy day ahead of them to begin their challenge. But Shenton thinks this will only help reinforce the spirit that the club’s performance staff are after when devising this unique test:

“When you do days like this, these little mini-camps, when the weather’s difficult, it’s tough: You’ve got to steel your mind to it, you’ve got to work well in small groups. These are all the things you kind of grow into, you develop these values, and you grow your team’s spirit, which is so massively important nowadays. I think Daryl’s (Powell) always tried to buy into the heritage of the community and the club, the history and since Jon (Wells) has come in, he’s been a big part of that as well.”

After the camp, the team will have some well-earned time off over Christmas before returning in the New Year and the Tigers’ Captain was confident that these sessions will help lay down a marker for what to expect in 2021.

“We could have easily come in on 4th January when most teams are coming in, but we all know how important this year is. We didn’t hit the standards that we wanted last year, and there was disruption with Covid, but we have to put all that behind us and we have to move forward.

“I think we’ve made some exceptional signings, there are some real quality, motivated players coming into this team, who are going to really add strength and depth going forward. This is all a way of setting standards really, this is what we expect, we want to dig in here before Christmas, have a small break over the holidays, but then we know what’s expected of us in the New Year, and we can really start building some momentum going towards the 11th of March.”

In and amongst all the hard work, there will be some time for resting up over the Christmas period and uniquely this year, more time to be festive with the family and prepare mentally for next season.

“It’s been nice to have some time off just before this camp and do some Christmassy things”, Shenton added.

“It’s hard with so much shut down at the minute, but normally we’d be training until right up until Christmas Eve so it’s nice to have time with the family, and that time between Christmas and New Year, where you’re not worried about training. There are little bits to do at home to stay in good nick of course, but it’s ideal to relax and refresh the mind to be ready to go when we come back in.”

With the foundation laid for the 2021 pre-season in January, the Castleford captain is raring to go and looking forward to stepping into the new season with something to prove:

“I can’t wait. I really can’t wait, I’m really excited! I see the boys here, I see smiles on their faces, they’re motivated. I know they’ve been working hard in the off-season so everyone feels a little bit like we didn’t do ourselves justice in 2020, so let’s move on and let’s make sure that doesn’t happen again and that we’re really challenging at the top for 2021.”

The Tigers first team will return to training on January 4th ahead of the Betfred Super League 2021 Season commencing on March 11th.

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