Castleford Tigers star Daryl Clark is hoping for a better experience of playing on Widnes Vikings’ artificial pitch after coming away injured from his one previous visit to the Select Security Stadium.
The in-form hooker has been a key player for the Tigers this year and came up with another big play to set up the late winning try against Salford last Saturday.
With his direct running from acting half he is likely to be crucial to Castleford’s plans again at Widnes in tonight’s First Utility Super League clash and is looking forward to a better experience than at the ground last year.
He said: “I’ve only played at Widnes once and came off injured so hopefully there won’t be a repeat of that.
“Hopefully I can stay injury-free this time and we can get another win.
“I sprained my ankle and you could say it would have happened anyway or you could say it was because of the pitch, I didn’t really look too much into it.”
Clark does not think the league match will have much of a bearing on next month’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final when the two teams will meet again.
He said: “You’ve got to look at it as two completely separate games.
“Obviously it will be psychological to get the win, but both teams will be wanting to win to get the points.
“It has been proven time and time again that cup games are completely different. Everybody ups their game, especially for a semi-final with a chance of getting to Wembley.
“It will be a completely different game to the semi-final I would have thought.
“We’ve got try to concentrate on the league now, try and get a bit of form, building up to the semi-final and hopefully the lads will playing their best rugby when we get there.
“If you think too much about it you can take your mind off the league so we need to keep it out of our minds to as late as possible before the game.
“I think we’ve just come through our rough patch. Every team through the year has a dip. You don’t see teams going all year without going through a rough patch, but we got back to winning ways at the weekend and hopefully we can now keep that going until the play-offs and not have any more dips.
“At the beginning of the season we were under the radar and people were waiting for us to drop off. When we were still winning games and staying up near the top of the league people have had to take us more seriously now.
“They probably look more into our game now and study us more if they want to beat us.
“We were far from our best on Saturday, but we just stuck in for the full 80 and managed to get the two points. Probably games like that last year we wouldn’t have come away with the win.
“If we had have lost it would have been three in a row and it would have looked worse than probably what it is. Because we have done so well and won so many games losing three in a row would have been a big concern.
“So it could be a turning point for us. It was not quite a must win game, but it’s helped us a lot.”
Clark enjoyed locking horns with former team-mate Rangi Chase in last Saturday’s game at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
He added: “I’m still good mates with Rangi. I still go and see him when he comes over.
“He used to tap lifts off me every morning for training.
“It was a bit different playing against him because he’s been at Castleford ever since I’ve come through. I’ve played every season with him before this one. But I suppose players move on.
“I can imagine coming back after the stick he got he probably wanted to show the fans what they’re missing and try and prove a few wrong. But it just wasn’t to be for him on Saturday.
“With Rangi back it was like a derby game. But we’ve had good crowds all year and they always make it pretty special when we play here.”