While admitting his side face a tough final three matches Daryl Powell reckons the difficulty of their run-in can stand Castleford Tigers in good stead if they reach the Betfred Super League play-offs.
Following last weekend’s results the Tigers still stand in sixth place, but just two points now separates them from Warrington Wolves in second.
However, Castleford face the hardest run-in of any of the challengers as they have three teams above them still to face with runaway leaders St Helens away next followed by Hull at home then Wigan Warriors away.
The Tigers have a hard task certainly, but head coach Powell believes if they are up to it his players will be battle hardened for the knockout matches to follow in the play-offs.
He said: “We are in a position where it’s not in our hands and we have a tough run-in, but I have said to the players we have got a great opportunity.
“We have got St Helens straight after the Challenge Cup final and they are a great side whatever team they put out, then Hull at home, tough game and Wigan away, tough game. They are all tough games and if we are going to be in the top five we are going to be good enough to be there.
“If we are good enough we will be hardened because of the games we’re playing in.
“It is set up perfectly for us to see if we are good enough or not. And if we are I think we will have a fair chance of having a dig at it.
“I think it’s an ideal lead in.”
Powell is frustrated that despite wins in their last two matches the Tigers are not higher up the table.
He explained: “I think we should be clear second, to be honest.
“Obviously Warrington have dropped off a bit, but we were 12 points up at Hull KR two weeks ago and ended up losing and we lost by a point at Leeds.
“They are all ifs, buts and maybes, but there’s been games when we had a clear-cut opportunity to win, but didn’t.”
Castleford’s recent form has seen them win four from their last five matches so they are not lacking confidence that they can still finish in the top five.
Powell pointed out: “For us and Salford to be there shows there’s a little bit of something in terms of momentum.
“We’ve dropped off alarmingly in a couple of games - the one against Leeds a few weeks back that weren’t great in and the Hull KR one, but apart from that we’ve been going well.
“We’ve got Saints next up and that’s a great challenge, away from home, and we’ve got to show we’ve got some steel about us.”
With this weekend seeing the Challenge Cup final the Tigers are without a game, but Powell is not worried that it will interrupt the team’s flow.
He added: “I’m not worried either way that we’ve got a week off.
“The boys will enjoy it because it gives them a bit of a breather and it’s a long season.
“We’ve got a couple of sessions this week where we’ll work hard and then we’ll rock up and train hard leading up to St Helens.”