CASTLEFORD coach Danny Orr believes Sunday’s derby game between the Tigers and Featherstone Rovers will be the perfect preparation for the Super League battles to come for his team.
While it may only be a friendly ahead of a long season that starts next month players on both sides will be eager to impress with local bragging rights at stake and Rovers out to show their Challenge Cup win over the Tigers last year was no fluke.
Veteran of many derbies in his playing days Orr is hoping for a big crowd to add atmosphere to the pre-season clash – Castleford’s only home game before the season proper – and although he played down the relevance of the result he is expecting a full contact match.
He told the Express: “It’s a good game to help preparations because I think it will have some of the intensity that Super League games have.
“Featherstone have done really well in the last few years and will have a good following, obviously with it being a local derby, so I think the intensity will be there in the game and that’s what you want in these trials.
“In a couple of weeks we’re playing Warrington away so we don’t want an easy game – and we definitely won’t get that from Featherstone.
“We’re looking forward to the game. It’s another one when we can work on different combinations and things we are trying to put in place.
“People will try and make a bit more about it with it being Cas and Fev, but at the end of the day it’s just a game. There’s no points at stake and no finals at the end of it, it’s just another game where we’re trying to improve as a team and we’re preparing for Super League. That’s the way we’ll be going into it.”
Castleford were beaten 26-6 in their first pre-season match away at Hull FC last Sunday, but Orr said the Tigers coaching staff were pleased with the run out.
He said: “I think it was quite good for us. We got a lot of positives out of it. It was good for the coaches to have a look at where we’re at and for the players to see things that they need to work on. It’s gone really well in training, but when you come to a game it’s totally different.
“It was a good hit out for us and we came out of it with no injuries so that was good.
“Obviously the fitness levels will be a little bit better for the players. There’s still a few things to work on here and there, but overall I think we were quite pleased with how it went.”
Tigers head coach Ian Millward was also happy with aspects of last Sunday’s game.
He said: “The Hull game was a fantastic exercise for us. Both the players and myself have learnt a lot from the game and areas we need to work on for Sunday.
“There were a lot of positives in our attacking display, especially in the first half and when we stuck to the new structures we have been working on, we created plenty of opportunities. In defence, we certainly showed some improvement on last season but there were times where players were out of position and this left us vulnerable.
“We didn’t get as much ball in the second half and players lapsed into some old habits, but it just gives us plenty to work on and put right against Featherstone.
“For us the game wasn’t about the score line, but what it did show was that the players are comfortable and looked good when they put into practice what we have been doing in training. It also showed the impact of the new signings with Webster, Shenton, Carney and Hauraki performing well.
Jordan Tansey, who sustained a calf injury in training last week, and Keith Mason, who suffered a shoulder injury ahead of the Hull game on Saturday, will both miss out again this week. But Lee Gilmour will be ready to make his Cas debut against Featherstone and the Tigers are set to name their strongest available line-up for their last match before they open the season on February 3 at Warrington.
Millward added: “There was a positive atmosphere in the dressing room after the game and the guys are looking forward to putting what they have learnt from Hull into practice. Sunday’s game is vital in continuing to apply our new structures and becoming more consistent in the way we want to play.”
Kick-off at the Wish Communications Stadium on Sunday is 2pm with Castleford confirming earlier this week that the game would go ahead – weather permitting – despite the recent theft of electrical cable. Admission is £12 adults and £5 concessions.
Tigers chief executive Steve Ferres said: “The electricians have done a fantastic job to get us in a position to be able to host the game against Featherstone. However, due to electrical work still to be carried out we will revert to a 2pm kick-off.”