Castleford forwards set for tough battle

Keith Mason in action for Castleford Tigers. Picture: IAN HARBER
Keith Mason in action for Castleford Tigers. Picture: IAN HARBER
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Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell wants his forwards to “man up” on Sunday against a Huddersfield Giants side famed for their big pack.

With both teams desperate to bounce back from defeats in their most recent games a big battle up front is likely and the Tigers expect to be massively tested in this area especially as they could be without two of their first team props.

Ryan Boyle is definitely out after picking up a one match suspension last week and Castleford may also travel to the John Smith’s Stadium without Keith Mason after he has been involved in a lengthy court case this week – claiming unfair dismissal ironically from the Tigers’ next opponents, Huddersfield.

Tigers head coach Powell will decide whether to play Mason after speaking to him at the conclusion of the court case, but knows he has to reshuffle his pack already.

He told the Express: “Ryan Boyle will have to sit out his one game, which is disappointing, but his absence is an opportunity for someone else and we’ve got one or two players who are waiting to step up that’s for sure.

“Whoever plays will be tested. They’ve got a big pack that can cause a lot of trouble physically so you need to man up.

“Our forward pack will be challenged significantly. They’ll need to be outstanding as Warrington’s were in the cup game last Sunday.

“Keith Mason’s got a court case going on this week and if it extends it’s unlikely he will play. But I’ll wait and see how he rolls up when he does come back into training.

“We’ll see what the outcome is and I’ll have a chat with Keith through the week to decide if he will play.”

Powell said that the problem between Mason and Rangi Chase that saw the pair argue on the field against St Helens was now resolved.

He said: “There’s no ongoing problem between Keith and Rangi Chase. They had a chat on the day after the St Helens game and I don’t see it as a lingering thing.

“Obviously it’s disappointing that the players do have these spats every now and again, but that’s the nature of the game. People care about what they’re doing and it gets heated here and there, but they fixed it up pretty quick.”

Whether Mason is included or not for the trip to Huddersfield Powell faces a few selection decisions. Young prop Dan Fleming is the most likely to come back into the squad, but there are other options as Nathan Massey, who has been playing at loose forward, could move back to prop and Weller Hauraki may be switched from his recent half-back role to the second row. Elsewhere in the team on loan Michael Channing is itching to be given his first chance.

Powell added: “I haven’t selected the team yet, I’m having a good look at people in practice.

“There’s a couple of places that you would think may be available after a sort of up and down performance against St Helens. I’ll watch the players in training and sort the team out later in the week.

“Michael Channing is one of the players in contention as Kirk Dixon did get a bit of an ankle knock so I’ll check on him. I’m not certain which way I’ll go yet, but Michael’s certainly one of the players in there available for selection.

“Lee Gilmour won’t be playing I would have thought. He’s working hard on his shoulder in rehab, but I’m not certain yet when he will be available again. When it’s a nerve injury like his it’s a difficult one to predict.”