Key player Luke Dorn has been ruled out of Castleford Tigers’ final game of the regular season at Wakefield Wildcats on Sunday.
Dorn’s calf strain means he adds to the Tigers’ lengthening list of absentees as they look to do the double over their local rivals and leap over them to end the first part of the First Utility Super League season in sixth place.
There is some good news as they do expect to have winger Paddy Flynn and forward Nathan Massey back after they missed the defeat to Warrington, while Rangi Chase came through his comeback game okay and will retain his place in the squad.
But they are not sure yet if Grant Millington will be available after he suffered a head knock and could have to go into the local derby without 10 first teamers.
Tigers head coach Daryl Powell told the Express: “It’s been really tough for us this year and continues to be.
“Luke Dorn will be out this week, which will obviously be disappointing. He’s got a slight calf strain that will keep him out of this game.
“I would have thought Paddy Flynn will be okay and Nathan Massey will come back in, but I don’t think we’ve got anybody else to bring back into our pack.
“I don’t know about Grant Millington. He has to take his head test on Thursday and we will see how he is later in the week.
“Rangi Chase will be in there somewhere. I have to make a decision on whether he starts or is on the bench, but he will be in the team.
“It was tough for him last Sunday as he hadn’t played for a while and it was a quick game where we had a lot thrown at us, but he came through okay and it will have benefited him.
“He’ll get another week’s training under his belt, which will obviously help him. It’s been a big couple of weeks for him.”
Powell warned his players that they will have to improve their defensive work if they are to keep their place in the team when players do eventually return from injury.
He said: “We’ve got to improve our defence. I’ve been talking about it for a while now and it’s clearly an area that needs to get better.
“We’re working on it consistently, but we need the boys to apply it on a regular basis.
“It’s been there at times, but just not consistent enough. We’ve got to get a grip of our defensive game and be a fair bit tougher when we’re under pressure.
“We always score some good tries so that’s not an issue for us, but we can’t have to score 40-odd points to win a game so it might be we’ve got to reel in some elements of our game at times.
“We want to go and challenge the opposition and we’re very good at doing that, but at times you’re going to make errors and on the back of those you have to defend well.
“At the weekend they got straight through the middle on us and there were way too many missed tackles in there – I think it was our worst total of the season.
“Whilst Warrington can do that to you, we have to be better, we’ve got to be tougher and more resilient when a team is playing well against you.
“It’s something we’ve been working hard on since we came back in for pre-season training. Clearly in terms of decision making and a little bit of toughness under pressure we need to be better.”
Powell added: “It helps when you’ve got all of your better players out there and we’ve got a bit of a mix at the moment.
“There’s some players in there who clearly need to improve massively defensively and they’ll be getting under pressure to keep their spot, which is not something we’ve been able to do this year.
“That’s been a big problem. I haven’t been able to rotate players or leave them out of the side because they are not playing well enough. Generally if you’ve been fit you’ve been pretty close to the side.”