Castleford Tigers gear up for tough four-match run-in

Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell. Picture: Allan McKenzie/
Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell. Picture: Allan McKenzie/

Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell admits his side are facing a tough task to make the play-offs, but believes they should enjoy the challenge ahead in the closing month of the season.

With four games to play in the regular season the Tigers stand in sixth place, behind Salford on points difference, two points behind Wigan and with four to make up on Warrington in second and Hull in third.

With two of those teams to play it is still in Castleford’s own hands to finish in the top five, although with three of their remaining games away from home – starting with Sunday’s trip to Huddersfield – it will be a difficult ask.

Head coach Powell says there is still belief within the team.

He told the Express: “We’ve got a tough run-in, but we’re right in the mix to make the play-offs.

“Obviously Saints and Wigan away to come and we’ve only got one home game left, it’s going to be tough from here, but we’ve just got to aim up.

“We’re looking to improve over the next four weeks. Our form’s been up and down and we want to try and hold some form over a decent stretch.

“We’re going need to do that to have any kind of hope of having an impact on the play-offs. It’s important how we go about things now.

“It’s still in our own hands. We’re going to need to win three games probably and that’s a tough challenge, but I’ve got to believe we can do it.

“There’s still some belief in there. We’ve got to play with some confidence and enjoy the next four weeks, the challenge of it all.”

Castleford’s hopes are not helped by their injury situation and although they could have a couple of players back this week who were not able to play against London they are still likely to be without seven first team stars, including key men Liam Watts, Luke Gale, Junior Moors and Michael Shenton.

Powell explained: “We only trained with 17 players on Tuesday.

“We train again this week and should have a few players back for that.

“Greg Minikin should be available again. Liam Watts won’t be.

“I’m not sure about Greg Eden so I’ve got a couple of late calls as we get through the week.

“Adam Milner’s not trained yet this week after picking up a rib injury that kept him out of last week’s game. I’m hoping he’ll be okay, but he’s another one who we will see as he gets through the week and starts to get in some contact how he’s going to be.

“Chris Clarkson picked up a bit of a hamstring injury. It happened early in the London game and we’re not sure what happened there. Again we will check on him as we roll through. I’d say he will be a pretty big doubt.”

Powell was pleased to have half-back Jamie Ellis back in his team last week and is likely to select him again for the Huddersfield trip after he came through his comeback fine.

He added: “Jamie was mixed, but it’s tough when you play your first game of the season.

“He did some good things I thought and some other bits he’ll get better with as he plays more games. It’s good to have him back on the field again.

“We hoped he would help Jake Trueman and take the pressure off him a bit and Truey played well, his running game was good, he set up a try with a bit of class.

“With his communication skills Jamie will take a bit of pressure off Truey.”