Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell has challenged his players to put a marker down for a first team shirt in the two pre-season warm-up games this weekend.
The Tigers travel to play York City Knights at Bootham Crescent tomorrow night (7.30pm) then stage their only remaining home pre-season game against local rivals Wakefield Wildcats at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Sunday (3pm) with Powell seeing both games as important.
He told the Express: “I’m really looking forward to this weekend.
“We’ve got two games coming up, which gives me a chance to watch all of our first team squad play and some of the young guys as well.
“Pre-season has been outstanding so far and it’s now about the players putting a marker down for themselves in terms of that first game in three weeks’ time. It’s a good opportunity for everybody.
“Wakefield is the game against Super League opposition so there will be a stronger team on paper for that game. But it will be a strong team against York as well.
“We’ve got a number of players who are vying for starting slots in the team so this is a chance for them to show me they should be in the squad for the first game.”
Powell revealed that players set to face York include props Gadwin Springer, Ryan Boyle and Will Maher, plus backs Ryan Hampshire, Jy Hitchcox, Ash Robson and Greg Minikin, who will line-up against the team from which he has just been signed.
Three players are unavailable for either match through injury, but all the other members of the first team squad will get valuable game time.
Powell explained: “Frankie Mariano, Nathan Massey and Tom Holmes will miss out due to different injuries.
“Frank had a bit of a setback on camp. He pulled his quad, but he’s been working really hard to get back from his knee reconstruction.
“Nathan fell on his wrist and got some real discomfort from that so he didn’t really take part in the team stuff, which was disappointing for him and for us.
“Tom has got a shoulder issue. I’m hoping he’s going to be okay for Bradford the week after, but it’s a little bit early for him this weekend.”
Powell is expecting a good test against Wakefield.
He added: “If you look at Wakefield’s performance against Leeds at Christmas, to go there and win will be a big lift for them confidence-wise.
“They’ve got good players in all positions and will be a challenge for us.
“Hopefully we will play well and be consistent across the game and really try to apply our game to Wakefield.”