Castleford Tigers gearing up to renew rivalry with Leeds Rhinos
Castleford Tigers' Super League meetings with Leeds Rhinos are set to make up a three-game series titled 'The Clash' in 2019.
Two of the three Betfred Super League fixtures will take place at Emerald Headingley Stadium and the third and final meeting is at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
The Clash was a big success in 2018 with a record-breaking Super League attendance at Elland Road last March and has been revived for 2019 for all three Super League meetings between the two local rivals.
The rivalry between these two clubs has flourished in recent years with the Tigers racking up a string of victories in league games, but losing out to the Rhinos in the 2014 Challenge Cup and the 2017 Grand Final.
Castleford won all three of their meetings with Leeds last season and now the stage is set for the rivalry to reignite in 2019.
The first meeting takes place on Thursday, March 28 at Emerald Headingley Stadium. The second match also takes place at Emerald Headingley on Thursday, May 16, but the final game in The Clash series will be hosted by the Tigers at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle on Sunday, July 7.
The two teams, meanwhile, meet in a pre-season friendly at Headingley this Sunday (3pm) with Daryl Powell expected to pick his strongest side as there are no more trial games available to him after this one.
The Tigers line-up is also set to include new signing Jordan Rankin and former Rhinos player Chris Clarkson, who is on trial with the Tigers.
Leeds fans will get their first glimpse of former Australia Test prop Trent Merrin and Tongan centre Konrad Hurrell in the match, which also doubles as Kallum Watkins’ testimonial.
The Rhinos’ other major close-season recruit, Tongan stand-off Tui Lolohea played in the Boxing Day friendly against Wakefield Trinity and Furner is keen to test the strength of his new-look squad.
“We’re going to pick a pretty strong side,” said Furner.
“It’s probably our last hit-out.
“Castleford have been such a successful team under Daryl (Powell) and it will be a good gauge, I’m eager to see where this team is at on the back of last year.”
Furner is also expecting England centre Watkins to make his comeback from an eight-month injury lay-off in his testimonial game.
Watkins has not played since rupturing his ACL last May.
“We’re planning for him to play,” added Furner.
“He’s been doing a lot of opposed training but we just want to make sure he’s right to go. I need to get that final check from the medical staff but we’re leaning towards him playing.”