Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell admits his team owe supporters a good performance against long standing rivals Leeds Rhinos in tonight’s big derby at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
After three successive defeats and a 56-12 thrashing at Warrington the Tigers are under pressure to perform better against the champions and Powell knows all about how much it matters to the fans to win this one.
He said: “I apologised to the fans after last week’s game. Our away support is amazing and it hurt us all to see and to do what we did last week so we certainly do owe them a good performance.
“One of the motivations while I’ve been at the club is to do the people that support us proud.
“You don’t get it right all the time and can’t possibly do, but there’s performances that are acceptable and some that aren’t – and clearly that wasn’t at Warrington.
“So in terms of proving to ourselves that we’re a very good team we need to do a great job against Leeds.
“You should be for up for every game, but this is a local derby against the team that all the Castleford fans would want us to beat more than any other, maybe with the exception of Wakefield.
“It’s important that we turn up individually and collectively and put in a performance we can be proud of.
“We’ve been rattled a little bit with different things, obviously injuries haven’t helped, but still the players that are out there are good quality players.
“We’ve had a pretty honest week and we’ll move forward and get cracking on Thursday.
“The nature of team sport is that you’re going to have times when it’s difficult and you’ve got to fight your way out of it.”
Powell is confident that supporters will see a very different Cas team to the one that was 38-0 down by half-time at Warrington.
He said: “We’re a little bit low on personnel, but we’ve still got a really good squad and a good team will take the field so we’ve got to go into the game with some confidence.
“It’s crucial for us that we respond and perform well. It’s a local derby, the place is going to be packed, we’re at home so it’s a key game for us.
“It’s crucial that we go after Leeds and we perform well. We’re well aware of all that and I’m confident we’ll get a response.
“We haven’t had a lot of time to train, but the players have been looking pretty good. Hopefully we can pull a plan together that is going to really challenge Leeds and put them under pressure.”
Castleford have lost two more forwards for the game with Frankie Mariano picking up another knock in his first game back from a long absence and Matt Cook picking up a two-match suspension after admitting making a dangerous contact in a tackle on Warrington’s Brad Dwyer.
But they are relieved that the knee injury picked up by Andy Lynch has not proved to be as serious as first feared and he is expected to retain his place in the front row.
The Tigers may also have Ben Roberts available again after he missed the last two games with a foot injury. If he comes through a fitness test a decision will be made on whether he plays half-back or full-back in the absence of Luke Dorn, who is expected to be out for two months with a hamstring tear.
Powell explained: “Ben Roberts has improved significantly and we will see how he is.
“We weren’t really sure how long he’d be out because it was a difficult foot injury so we’ll assess him and make sure he’s okay before the game.
“I’ve got a couple of decisions to make on whether he comes in at half-back or full-back. We’ve got a few options at full-back and Benny’s played there before.
“Frankie (Mariano) won’t play. He tweaked his knee, but it’s nothing major.
“He is having a scan just to make sure that there’s no reoccurrence. I don’t think there is. Initially he was a little bit worried, but he’ll be all right.
“I don’t know any timescale yet, but when things are going against you injury-wise they are going against you and that’s where we are at the minute.”