Angry Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is demanding a big response from his players against St Helens on Sunday after branding their display against Hull KR as ‘calamitous’.
Powell said he had been ‘cracking the whip’ since witnessing a 58-16 thrashing at the hands of Hull KR and has warned players that they will be out of the team unless they shape up.
He admitted it will be a difficult task to bounce back against a St Helens team he rates highly, but reckons fans can expect a different attitude from the players this week.
He said: “I can’t crack any more whips – I’ve worn all my whips out this week!
“I’m confident there’ll be a response. There needs to be a really tough, aggressive, positive response in terms of the way we play the game.
“The message to our guys is step up or you won’t be in the team, it’s as simple as.
“Last Sunday was one of the worst performances I’ve been involved in.
“Our first half was pretty bad, but we were in the battle and pretty close. But what we did to ourselves and allowed Hull KR do to us in the second half was nothing short of calamitous and disastrous – you could use a lot of words.
“It was really poor on every level so we’ve got a bit of responding to do.
“The really disappointing thing for me is that we spoke about this five or six weeks ago. We’ve gone through this as a team saying ‘come on boys this is clearly unacceptable’ and there’s got to be a real focus on doing your job and not being distracted by whatever.”
Powell was mystified where such a poor performance came from.
He said: “Our training was outstanding during the week. I thought we’d got our mojo back after the Easter period.
“All the signs were that the players were ready to go, but somewhere in the individuals’ minds there’s something not quite right and that’s what we’ve got to fix up. There’s got to be a consistency of effort and determination to get the job done on a weekly basis.
“But for me there’s certain things we need to be doing now in our practice and then in individual preparation to get us to where we need to be.
“It’s going to be tough, Super League’s a real unpredictable and a tough competition this year.
“There’s a couple of ways to go, you can put your head in the sand or you can stick your chest out, dust yourself down a little bit and get on with it. I think the latter’s a better way of going about it so I’m hoping we’ll get stuck into it.
“I’m pretty confident we will, but you play at your best against St Helens and it’s a tough game. They are a bit up and down, but they’re tough.
“They’d be disappointed at times this year, but when they play well they are a real challenge. Their forward pack is big and aggressive, Walsh is playing well at half-back and Fages has come in and created something a little different for them. Then you’ve got Roby who is one of the best players in the comp.
“They’re a good side and we had to wait until the last second to beat them down here last year. You have to play at your best to get over the top of these men. That’s what we’re going to have to do.”
On the back of the Hull KR debacle, Powell is considering making team changes. He does not have many options, but centre Ben Crooks and forward Gadwin Springer are both expected to be available again after injury.