They may have beaten Bradford Bulls 66-10 just two weeks ago but Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell is preparing his players for a tough opening to the new Super League season when they make a quick return to the Provident Stadium on Sunday.
Powell expects the Bulls to be smarting from the heavy pre-season loss and reckons his team will have to be at their best to make it a winning start to the campaign.
He said: “We need to come up with an excellent performance against a team that will be rattled a little bit. That creates its own motivation and we’ve got to be mindful that our mentality is absolutely massive in this game.
“Our players were aware of that straight after we played Bradford last time.
“It will be a tough battle. Bradford will respond and we’ve got to make sure that we are right on top of our game in order to get the points.
“We spoke about making sure there’s no complacency straight after the game and I don’t think it will be a problem. From everything I’ve seen in practice since then there’s no air of having our head in the clouds. It’s a group that’s working hard on what we need to do to win games on a consistent basis.
“There’s no getting carried away with anything. We haven’t got any competition points yet so nothing really matters from what happened a few weeks ago, apart from building a bit of confidence.”
Powell has not finalised his side yet, but knows he will be without five of his first team squad with forwards Nathan Massey, Ryan Boyle and Lee Gilmour and backs Jake Webster and James Clare all ruled out of the opener through injury.
He said: “The nature of the game dictates that you have injuries, but we’ve got a few too many.
“Nathan Massey’s been a real disappointment because he hasn’t come through. He had to come off at Dewsbury with a groin injury. It’s the same problem he’s had all along and we’ve not been able to get to the bottom of it.
“He’s had two operations now and we’re no further forward really so he has seen a specialist and will have a scan next week. Hopefully it’s not too much of an issue and he can start his road to recovery, but at the moment he’s not able to do that, which is disappointing as he’s a good player for the team.
“We’ve got people out like Ryan Boyle and Jake Webster who have been long term and Lee Gilmour is still out after having that infection.
“James Clare got a knock against Bradford and he’s not far away, but he won’t be available for selection for this game.
“We have got a bigger squad to be able to deal with injuries this year, but up front we are missing two of the front line props in Massey and Boyle and that has an impact.
“But I thought Dan Fleming was very good at Dewsbury. He showed a fair bit of toughness and his second stint was exceptional. I was pleased with the way he went about his business and he’ll be handy to have about.
“He’s a young player who is really looking to put a stamp on this season so he’s going to be important for us over the next month or so until we get people like Nathan Massey and Ryan Boyle back.”