Pack star Oliver Holmes is expecting a fiery contest when Wigan Warriors provide the opposition for his Castleford Tigers team at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle tomorrow night.
Holmes, now getting back to his best after overcoming an injury that ruled him out of a large chunk of the 2016 season, has been in some tough battles with Wigan in recent years and sees no reason why the latest game will not be the same.
He told the Express: “They always come with a lot of intent and it’s what they are known for really. I’m expecting the same as always against Wigan – a fiery game.
“Over the past few years it’s become quite a heated affair between the two of us.
“We’ve knocked them out of the cup, they’ve knocked us out and there’s been personal little battles on the pitch that have sort of taken the games to that next level.
“It’s got quite aggressive at times and we don’t mind that – that’s the nature of rugby league. We’ve got to step up.
“There have been times when they’ve beaten us this year when they have gone with that intent and we haven’t gone with them. But we have shown last week that our forward pack can mix it with the best of them so we just have to take that into this week.”
Holmes reckons the Cas players have extra determination for this game as they aim to put right what has gone wrong against Wigan this year.
He said: “They’ve done us three times this year. It’s not often you get to play a team four times in one season so it gives us a chance to rectify what’s gone wrong when we’ve played them before.
“We want to put it right for us and for the fans as well, especially those that travelled over in so many numbers for the cup game. It would be good to get a win for them and I know how much they want to beat Wigan.”
Going into the game off the back of the great win at Hull has given everyone a confidence boost.
Holmes said: “Training this week has had a bit of a different feel about it.
“People have been feeling good, there’s laughter around the joint, it’s enjoyable to see smiling faces and we’ve all been given a bit of a lift.
“That confidence has definitely oozed out from the Hull game and hopefully we can be consistent every week now.
“Beating probably the most consistent side of the year at their own place was a big and enjoyable game for us.
“With how good they’ve been this year I don’t think there’s been many teams who’ve come away from there with wins so to do it twice in one year is a credit to us.
“We can take a lot of confidence from that into this week’s game.
“We’re usually a ball playing team who like to shift the ball about and take yards where we can, but at the weekend it was a bit different and we took them down the middle.”
Holmes is pleased to be fit again after enduring a frustrating year that has seen him only make 10 appearances and ready to put in some eye-catching displays that could put him in England contention.
He added: “I’m feeling good, it’s finally got to the point in the season where I’ve managed to string a few games together.
“It’s been a frustrating year for myself with injuries, but I’m back out on the field playing now and I’m starting to hit a bit of form. I think I had probably my best game of the year last week at Hull.
“I just want to take that into each week now and be consistent.
“I want to play at the highest level and that is playing for England. But all I can do is play my best for Cas and hope to catch the eye of the coach.
“There’s no better way to do it than against Wigan. Obviously they’ve got a fair few England players in their side so if you can put a big performance in against them there’s no reason why your name probably shouldn’t be thrown out there.”