Thunder ready to rumble in Castleford friendly – Payne On Field January 24, 2018 Newcastle Thunder head coach Jason Payne is looking forward to seeing his 2018 squad in action for the first time this weekend, as they take on a Castleford Tigers side in their first pre-season friendly on Saturday (KO 5pm) Following a strong end to 2016, Payne has used the winter to overhaul and enhance his squad and is keen to see how a number of the 11 new faces he has brought into the club perform, along with his 2016 retentions. Speaking to ThunderRugby.com the head coach said: “The players and all the staff are really looking forward to Saturday’s game against Castleford. It has been an intense couple of months of training and it’s great that we can finally put some of those practices into a game. “The players have worked so hard this preseason and I’m really proud of how they have bought into what we are trying to do here. Come Saturday, we will only be three weeks away from the season, so the players know they need to put in some good performances to put their case forward for being involved in that first league game. “We have a great squad and a lot of depth, so this game against Castleford and next week’s game against Hemel will be really useful to see who has taken on board what we have been doing during pre-season. “I really hope all the Thunder fans can get behind the team on Saturday and come out in force to cheer on the lads, we have plenty of new faces for them to watch and I know that fan support and the noise it creates can make all the difference!” Tickets for Saturday’s game, which include entry to the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup first round tie between Wallsend Eagles and Pilkington Recs are on sale now priced at £10 for adults and £5 for Under 16s. Click here to book via the Newcastle Rugby online box office.