Castleford ready for French test

Junior Moors in action for Castleford Tigers on their last visit to Catalans Dragons. Picture: MATTHEW MERRICK
Junior Moors in action for Castleford Tigers on their last visit to Catalans Dragons. Picture: MATTHEW MERRICK

Head coach Daryl Powell is hoping a change in preparation will bring about a change of fortune as he aims to make it third time lucky taking his Castleford Tigers side over to France.

Powell’s two previous away games at Catalans Dragons in charge of the Tigers ended in bitter disappointment as Cas missed their chance to win the Super League leaders’ shield with a 28-6 defeat last September and suffered a controversial 13-12 defeat this season, back in February.

Now they go to France for another important game with a chance to move into the top four in the Super Eights or go level on points with the side in third, depending on the result of last night’s game between St Helens and Huddersfield.

Tigers boss Powell sees Saturday evening’s game as another vital one in their play-off bid, but reckons what has happened in the past at the ground will have no bearing.

He told the Express: “Our preparation’s a little bit different this time, we’re going over on the day so will prepare at home and fly over on Saturday morning and fly back on Saturday night. Hopefully the result will be different as well.

“We haven’t quite got the result since I’ve been coaching at Castleford, but earlier on in the season we weren’t too far away.

“We were unlucky that day, but it’s about where we’re at now. We’ve got a great opportunity to finish high up the table and hopefully in a top four spot, which would take us one game away from a Grand Final.

“So the motivation for us is what’s in front of us, not something that’s in the past, that can’t change anything really. It’s about us being spot on in what we do.”

Defeat at Huddersfield last week left Catalans eight points behind the Tigers with only the slimmest of chances of making the top four, but with no fear they could be a dangerous side to play at this time and Powell is preparing his team for a full on Dragons test.

He said: “It’s almost impossible for them to get in the top four now and it depends how they view it to be honest, whether they will just go out with the Gallic flair – or Sydney flair, they’ve got a bit of both in there – or whether they play their normal game. I don’t know, but I am just really interested in us, how we go about it and having a real focus about us.

“It looks like it’s going to be warm, but we’ll just deal with it. We’re preparing as well as we can and are making sure the boys look after themselves and are well hydrated.

“We need to go and play as well as we can regardless of the conditions.

“It will be a tough game, it always is away at Catalans. You’ve got a team of talented individuals against you.

“They’ve got a big physical pack, their back rowers, Zeb Taia and Elliot Whitehead, are outstanding so that will be a challenge. Todd Carney’s back in there and he’s a talented player along with Scott Dureau so we’re going to need to be right on top of our game.

“But I think there’s a steel developing about us and we need to carry that with us throughout the rest of the season now.

“We’re going to need it this week and need to deliver another outstanding defensive performance.”

With no fresh injury concerns, Powell is not looking at making many changes to his team, but admits to having a “couple of selection” decisions to make, chiefly whether to bring hooker Paul McShane into the squad after he was left out against Warrington and to choose between Ben Roberts and Luke Dorn at full-back.

He added: “I’ll have a look at the hookers and see how that works. We played with a little bit of a different format last week so I’ve got a decision to make on what we do.

“But there won’t be too many changes. We’re looking okay at the moment so I’m not going to play about with it too much. It’s an important game for us and we have a week off next week with the Challenge Cup final.”