Daryl Powell believes Castleford Tigers may need to win all their Super 8s games to go into the play-offs – but he is not writing off their chances.
With Cas seven points behind fourth-placed St Helens going into the Super 8s and five behind the Catalans team one place above them, head coach Powell acknowledged it would be a tall order for his team to finish higher than their current sixth position. However, he reckons there is still much for the Tigers to play for.
He told the Express: “If you look at the potential to get in the top four, it’s going to be a tough one, there’s no doubt about that. I think we probably need to win every game and then you are still not guaranteed because there’s a decent stretch of points between us, Catalans and St Helens.
“But you’ve got to believe special things are possible.
“We’ve just got to take each game as it comes and be as good as we can be. All the players need to be spot on and we need to really challenge the opposition.
“I’ve said quite a few times this year, particularly at the back end, that it’s felt like we were a duck on the end of a shooting gallery waiting to be shot at. Now that’s turned around a bit and we’ve got nothing to fear, just go and play, pull our game together and improve week to week.
“I know a lot of people talk about the Super 8s and one of the difficulties with it is if you get detached that you’ve got nothing to play for, but you don’t go into a Rugby League game with nothing to play for.
“I think we’ve got potential to be a very, very talented team. Obviously we need to keep people fit across the season for that to happen, but in terms of us turning into a champion team this period is really important for us.
“Everybody wants to finish the season before in a positive way to give yourself a little bit of momentum. We’ve got a good chance to do that.
“We’d like to have a real pop at getting up the ladder a little bit. That’s going to be a tough challenge, but that’s what defines the best teams and I think we need to have a real go at it.”
Castleford face a tough task in their opening Super 8s game as they face a Hull FC side fresh from winning the league leaders’ shield and Challenge Cup semi. But Powell believes his team has nothing to fear from their travel to the KC Stadium.
He said: “Hull have obviously been excellent this year. Their recruitment’s been excellent, they’ve pulled it all together and they’ve been on a special run.
“They have really big forwards, but I was really pleased with our pack the last twice we’ve played them.
“There’s nothing for us to fear, we went there in week three and won and we nearly beat them at Cas when we scored four tries to three and ended up just losing so we know we can trouble them – we need to do it again.
“We will have to play exceptionally well to beat them, but we are confident we can do it if everybody’s on the mark.”
Powell has been impressed with Hull this year.
He added: “They are a well rounded team.
“Sneyd’s kicking game has been exceptional so far this year. Obviously we know a fair bit about him, when we was here he was a very good player.
“In their forward pack they have people like Pritchard and Watts who give them good go forward and I like Houghton as a player, he makes them tick and is a real good quality, tough player.
“All across the field you look they have got good players and they’ve got plenty of strike on the edges. I like Talanoa, he’s a very strong winger. Their back rowers are strong - Minichiello is a handful.
“They’ve just a well balanced team and people like Ellis, who’s got so much experience. They are a talented team with lots of ability.”