While in 2017 Castleford hogged practically all of the media attention, the same cannot be said in 2018. St Helens have been the adopted media darlings with Warrington and Wigan not far behind. The Tigers currently sit in third, but very little has been said about their chances come the end-of-season run-in.

Why? Because anything other than a repeat of 2017 and there would inevitably be claims from the Rugby League fraternity that the Tigers were "one-season wonders." Therefore, when Castleford were thumped 46-6 at St Helens in round one, the Tigers were mocked far and wide by rival supporters who had looked in envy at the club one year ago.

But, the Tigers have steadied the ship since then and look determined to secure a top-four spot for two seasons running - a feat which even the staunchest of Castleford fans must have thought was unachievable after a very shaky start to the season. With the Super 8s coming up in just a matter of weeks, Castleford are well poised to launch another Grand Final assault, but this time without the immense pressure slapped upon them.

Slowly doing their job

Castleford have been far from perfect in 2018; three thrashings at the hands of St Helens and the 44-16 hammering away at Catalans show that there is still work to be done, yet they are in a great position. After the hullabaloo start of the season, the Castleford players have simply got on with their jobs and have inflicted some heavy defeats themselves, not least against Leeds last weekend whom the Tigers thrashed 42-10.

It seems that only the Tigers team, coaches, and fans believe they can go one step further in 2018 and this can only work in their favour. Whereas in 2017 Castleford were expected to win the Grand Final after swiping aside their Super League rivals with ease, there will be little to no pressure on the side as it comes to the business end of the season.

Returning players

Let's also be fair to Castleford, this season they have had a number of injuries to key men. Luke Gale and Ben Roberts have been out for most of the year, yet the former will be set for a return in the Super 8s. Nearly every Castleford player has been sidelined at some point or another in 2018. This would disrupt any team, but particularly one that relies heavily on its structured attacking play and the incorporation of the fullback into the line.

Six different teammates have tried their hand at fullback - Ben Roberts, Jake Trueman, Michael Shenton, Greg Eden, Calum Turner, Quentin Laulu-Togaga'e - and this number is set to rise to seven over the weekend with James Clare taking the No.1 shirt against Salford. Five have also tried their hand at halfback - Luke Gale, Ben Roberts, Jake Trueman, Jamie Ellis and Paul McShane. This swapping and changing is not exactly good for consistency and, at one stage this year, the Tigers had 11 out with injury.

Yet, the culture - installed by crowd favourite and head coach Daryl Powell - at the Jungle is one of the best in Super League, and when faced with adversity, the Tigers have come out the other side.

Superb victories away at Warrington and home against Wigan prove that Castleford cannot be underestimated in the Grand Final run-in and maybe, just maybe, without all the unwanted added pressure, the Tigers can succeed where they failed in 2017.