Daryl Powell admits his Castleford Tigers side are set for a much tougher Magic Weekend test than they have faced previously in his time as head coach at the club.
Powell has yet to taste defeat in the showpiece event, but Super League leaders Warrington Wolves now stand in the way of that proud record with the game kicking off at 4.45pm on Saturday.
With the Wolves having already tasted victory over Cas this season they will start favourites, although the Tigers have improved in recent weeks and are heading for Newcastle in much better shape than they looked a few weeks ago.
Powell told the Express: “We’ve enjoyed some good days at Magic Weekend. But we’ve generally been paired with Wakefield and over the past few years we’ve been good enough to win those games.
“This is a step up in class for us, although Wakefield are doing really well this year – we’ve played them when they’ve perhaps not been doing so well.
“It’s an extra game to your normal league competition. It’s an important one and if we can get over the top of them it builds our confidence again.”
Powell believes the Wolves are worthy league leaders and is not reading too much into their defeat at Wakefield last Sunday.
He said: “Warrington had a tough game last week. They had a few bits that happened to them that made it difficult, losing Stefan Ratchford before the game – that never helps.
“They got a couple of injuries to outside backs during the game and Wakefield are playing really well and you’ve got to give credit to them.
“Warrington have been in outstanding form and they started the season superbly well so they’ll be reasonably happy with where they are.
“You cop a result here and there that goes against you, but they are in a good place at the moment and they will be a tough challenge for us.
“We seem to be playing against teams that have got rattled a bit the week before, but you can’t worry too much about that. It’s about getting our performance right and winning the battle.”
Warrington showed what they could do in their 56-12 win over Cas in March and although their form has dipped a little since they still carry threats all over the pitch according to Powell, including those from former Tigers Joe Westerman and Daryl Clark.
He added: “Obviously Clarky was Man of Steel a couple of years back. He’s an outstanding player and it looks like he’s settled in there now.
“Westerman’s a good player and it’s taken him a while to settle in, but he looks like he’s playing well also.
“We know what they are capable of. Gidley’s given them a massive amount and Ratchford’s playing well at half-back. They are well balanced and look really sharp. Russell at the back is pretty quick.
“Chris Hill and Ashton Sims in the middle with Clark are a real threat, Ben Currie in the back row, they are just a real threat all over the field.”