Daryl Powell has labelled tomorrow night’s derby at Wakefield Trinity as must-win after his Castleford Tigers side lost to another of their local rivals, Leeds Rhinos, last week.
The Tigers head coach still believes the team can end the season in the play-offs, but admitted the campaign was now at a crossroads.
Powell is demanding an immediate improvement at the Mobile Rocket Stadium after telling his players the display against the Rhinos was not good enough.
He told the Express: “We need to play well this week, we need to win this game.
“It’s a win at all costs type game, I think that’s where we’re at now.
“Where we are in the competition at the moment we are teetering. It can go either way at the moment. Eight games left, there’s a chance for us to really go on and make the top five or to drop right off.
“But we’re training great. I’ve been saying that for a while, but what we are delivering is really inconsistent – one week it’s really good and the next it’s not good enough.
“I don’t think Leeds are a great team, but they didn’t have to do an awful lot to beat us last week. They worked hard, don’t get me wrong, but I am just so frustrated with the way that we are going and we are just too easy to beat.
“We were excellent against London and then we just came out with a different attitude. I said to the players afterwards that’s just not good enough. It’s unacceptable that we are so up and down from week to week.
“We’ve got eight games left so it’s not like we’ve got a mountain to climb. It’s pretty important that we start to show what we are capable of as a team.”
Castleford should have Jake Trueman back at half-back after he missed the Rhinos game due to a head knock.
Powell explained: “We’ve worked hard this week to put something into place to make our attack better and Jake Trueman coming back in will give us some more quality in the half.
“Cory (Aston) tried hard, but he’s in a team that’s not playing well and that’s pretty tough on him.
“Jake’s such a good player so we missed him. He and Cory played pretty well the week before against London. Truey, in particular, had a real sharpness to his game.
“It probably helped him having a week off. Hopefully it will freshen him up a bit. He hadn’t missed anything this year and it can have done him some good.”
Nathan Massey picked up a wrist injury last week, but is expected to be okay to play at Wakefield while Oliver Holmes is in line to return after overcoming his knee injury.
“Oli’s an important player for us,” added Powell. “He’s a tough player and he’s a bit of an emotional driver for the team.
“We weren’t sure what was going to happen with him with a knee injury that could have gone either way. It looks like he’s come through it okay.
“He’s had a good rehab programme and hopefully he comes through training this week and he will play.
“He will give me another option and we just want to get our players playing well, which gives me actual genuine options of who do I pick when they are all going well.”