Long-serving forward Nathan Massey has praised the coaching staff and chief executive Steve Gill for Castleford Tigers’ incredible transformation to become genuine trophy challengers this year.
Now in his seventh year as a first teamer at Cas, Massey has seen some dark days at the club, but is loving every minute of the 2014 season with the Tigers having already booked a play-off place in Super League and now heading for Wembley in their first Challenge Cup final since 1992.
He said: “The club’s had a real transformation from where we were last year.
“We’ve done some special things and I think full credit’s got to go to Daryl (Powell) and Steve Gill and the coaching staff because they have absolutely turned the club round from being on the brink to being real contenders, not just in the Challenge Cup, but in the league as well.
“We’ve got a real good opportunity to challenge for two trophies this year.
“It’s been fantastic this year, not just for us as a team and the club, but for the town. There’s a real buzz around the town now and people can’t wait for this final to come round. It’s really exciting.
“All the players are really hyped up. We’ve got some younger lads that have come through who I’ve played academy rugby with so hopefully to be walking out at Wembley with them is going to be a pretty special feeling.
“Being local as well and the only club I’ve every been at it’s going to be fantastic.”
For Massey it will be his first trip to Wembley for any game and he cannot wait to see the place for himself and sample the atmosphere on the day.
He said: “You always hope you can get to play in games like this. We nearly got there a few years back when Leeds knocked us out in the semi and that was really gut wrenching, but it’s finally come round and come Saturday hopefully I’ll get the nod to play and walk out at Wembley. I can’t wait.
“I can’t imagine what the crowd’s going to be like. When we’ve played at Headingley or at the Cas ground it’s fantastic so hopefully it will be a sell-out and an incredible atmosphere at Wembley.”
Massey is predicting a typically bruising derby encounter in the final.
He added: “It’s a local derby, Cas - Leeds games are always fierce encounters and always pretty entertaining so it’s fantastic for it to come and be the Challenge Cup final.
“It’s always tough in the forwards against Leeds. Jamie Peacock is a real enforcer in their pack and it’s going to be hard to control him, but we’ve played against him twice this year and we know what they’re about so we’re pretty clued up on them.
“In the first game at home we let ourselves down a bit and they took the win. The second game we felt we let ourselves down again and probably lost a point. So we’ve got a point to prove in the final.”