TERRY Matterson (pictured) intends to put out his strongest possible side as Castleford Tigers look to end a run of four games without a win in the fourth round Carnegie Challenge Cup tie at Rochdale Hornets on Sunday.
After the stunning cup exit to Barrow last season and a close call against Halifax the previous year the Tigers boss is instilling the need for his players to take lower league opposition seriously and sees the game as a big chance to get back on the wagon after it was seriously derailed by Leeds Rhinos last Friday.
He will not take any risks of further injury for players not 100 per cent fit, but will take a strong side to the Spotland Stadium with a cup run high on the agenda of targets for the Tigers this season.
Matterson told the Express: “We want a good cup run this year. It’s a competition that gives everyone a chance and Wembley is a big prize.
“It’s only two years ago that we got close and had a heartbreaking loss at Huddersfield when we felt we were a little bit stiff. We want to make up for last year as well, the disappointment of going out in the first round, and we’ve got an opportunity to do that.
“We’re disappointed to lose three in a row and we’ve got to turn that around. We’ve got an opportunity in a different competition now and we need to gain some confidence by playing well and defending well against Rochdale.
“We’re working hard this week on improving some areas. It’s been difficult the last few weeks when we haven’t done a lot of training on the field and maybe that’s showed in some of our work on the pitch.
“We know the opposition’s going to be up for it and they’ve got nothing to lose so we’re certainly going to respect them.
“Obviously playing at their home ground makes it tougher and we can’t take anything for granted – we saw that last year. We don’t have to go back too far to realise that anything can happen in this competition.
“We will take our strongest side, but we’re not going to take any risks with people who are injured, especially with a Friday turnaround. It’s important that everyone who plays on Sunday is 100 per cent fit.”
Dean Widders and Ryan Hudson, who were left out of the 17 for the Leeds game, will return to the squad for the cup tie with prop forward Nick Fozzard also in contention after overcoming the knee injury that forced him to miss the last two games.
Another prop, Nathan Massey, is in line for his first senior game of the season while Ryan McGoldrick is set to stay in the team after a promising first appearance as a substitute against the Rhinos. But there are injury concerns over several other first teamers.
Matterson said: “I’m not ruling anyone out at the moment and we’re certainly not taking this week easy, but we’ve got some fresh people there – Deano and Raz, who didn’t play last week, and people like John Davies and certainly Nathan Massey, who will get a run this week. I’m also fairly confident Nick Fozzard.will be back.
“I thought Ryan McGoldrick showed some promising things against Leeds and what he can add to us. He played in the middle and he’s going to give us some options.
“It was an encouraging performance, he’s pulled up well from it and he will get another game this week.
“But Brett Ferres and Richard Mathers picked up calf injuries and we’ll have a look at them before deciding if they will play. Danny Orr has played a lot of rugby league this year and he got knocked about a bit as well.”
Matterson is keen to see his side get back on the winning track quickly after a tough holiday period when he felt the team did not get the rewards they deserved and three games in eight days took its toll.
“Probably what came back to hurt us against Leeds was the previous two games. The effort we put in on Monday at St Helens took a lot out of us, both physically and emotionally on the back of being 20 points up and losing against Wakefield.
“We should have won those games and we couldn’t have done any more against St Helens. In the Leeds game a whole load of things didn’t go our way and they were just too big and strong and fresh for us.
“The best side won at the end of the day, but I thought the scoreline was very harsh on us. They scored 18 points in the last six or seven minutes and it was disappointing how it got away like that, but if we had taken some of our opportunities it would have been different.
“We got a couple of tough calls, but there were a couple of opportunities as well. We were camped on their line for a long time and we came up with the wrong options on a few of them, but we created some opportunities and we just couldn’t get over the line. In the end that told and we got frustrated, obviously with a couple of calls and some other stuff. But Leeds are a good side.
“It was a side that came into the game with some injuries on the back of two losses against a side getting players back on top of two wins. One team looked really tired in the second half and one looked fresh.
“It was tough night for some of the younger players and that can happen. Olly Holmes has been really good for us this year, but he just had one of those nights. Daryl Clark didn’t have a great night and all the young guys found it tough. That’s part of their learning process. They’ve been very good for us and I’ve been really pleased with the way they’ve gone over the season so I’m not too disappointed with them.
“We’ve got to make sure that we don’t overreact too much. We’ve obviously had three losses in a row, but if you look into them a bit harder we did compete in all those games and more than competed in the first two.”
Tickets for Sunday’s Challenge Cup fourth round contest are £12 adults, £8 concessions and £5 children and can be bought from 01706 648004. Castleford season ticket holders are eligible for free entry.
Castleford half-back Rangi Chase has been named in the Exiles squad to face England at Headingley Carnegie Stadium on Friday June 10 after being selected by Rugby League fans in an online poll.