Castleford Tigers ready to 'get back on the horse': Jesse Sene-Lefao and Peter Mata'utia predict Super League play-offs push
Getting back on the horse is the challenge facing wounded and weary Castleford Tigers this week.
Tigers are back in action on Saturday, a week after their Wembley defeat by St Helens, when they visit Betfred Super League leaders Catalans Dragons.
A run of six losses from their last seven league matches has seen them slip to seventh in the table, but forward Jesse Sene-Lefao and centre Peter Mata’utia both reckon the top-six - and ultimately an appearance at Old Trafford - are realistic goals.
Castleford’s poor league form includes a 16-6 home loss to Catalans exactly a month before this week’s meeting, part of the French side’s current nine-match winning sequence.
Beaten only once in the league this year, Dragons are tough opposition, particularly on their own turf, but Sene-Lefao insists a win in France would be the ideal way for Tigers to put their Challenge Cup final disappointment behind them.
“It is going to take some time to sink in,” he admitted.
“But the main focus is to get ready for the [rest of the] season now.
“That [the top-six and the Grand Final] is always the aim.
“Those are the goals we put up on the board in pre-season.
“I don’t think that changes and even if we had won [on Saturday] I still feel like that would be the goal.”
Tigers spent two months gearing up for last weekend’s tie and Sene-Lefao warned: “Everybody says jump back on the horse and move forward, but it is not going to be that easy.
“We need to get through this feeling and then turn it around.
“We are going to have to go on a big run now.
“It is going to hurt a lot of our boys, but I feel like it is also going to motivate boys to be better and to get back into these big games.”
Sene-Lefao was one of a handful of senior men who played against Salford Red Devils in Tigers’ last game before Wembley and was arguably their best forward against Saints.
After a difficult spell, he feels he is now playing some of his best rugby.
“I am confident,” he said.
“I feel like I am playing well with my edge and we did a good job [on Saturday].”
Mata’utia admitted defeat at Wembley was a “tough pill to swallow”, but “100 per cent” believes Tigers can climb the table and have a say in the Super League title race.
“It is disappointing, but we have got to recover from it [the Cup final defeat] and concentrate on the league now,” Mata’utia - who will join Warrington Wolves next year - stated.
“I thought we were the better team, but didn’t quite finish our sets the way we wanted to.
“If we play like that we will be in the top-six and that’s all we need.”
He added: “If we get in that top-six hopefully we will be there at the end of the year, at Old Trafford.
“I’ll jump back on the horse and do whatever I can to get this team into the top-six.”