Castleford Tigers star keen to hit Wembley trail

Mike McMeeken celebrates a try in a previous game at Hull.
Mike McMeeken celebrates a try in a previous game at Hull.

England forward Mike McMeeken is eager to go on a first serious Challenge Cup run with Castleford Tigers.

The back rower has put in some big performances since recovering from injury in recent weeks and hoping to be able to help the Tigers into the quarter-finals with victory at Hull tomorrow night.

Since heading north McMeeken has not got further than the last eight with Cas, but would love to sample the Wembley experience as some teammates did in 2014.

He explained: “It’s such a great stadium and one that I’d love to play at.

“I think there’s only maybe three or four of our players at the moment who have played there so it will be massive and massive for the town in general to get there.

“You saw what it was like the last time we got to a major final in 2017. There were probably only a handful of people left in the town with everyone at Old Trafford.

“I wasn’t at the club when they last got to the final in 2014, but I remember going to that game and the Cas section was absolutely covered in Cas fans and Cas shirts so you could see the following.

“Sadly there’s not been much of a cup run since then and we’ve not really performed when it got to the crunch time. But this week we’re preparing well and we’ve trained well and we’re really looking forward to playing in the cup.”

Castleford go into their Hull tie off the back of three straight league defeats, but McMeeken does not believe the players will lack confidence after showing spirit in those games despite being without so many injured first teamers.

He stressed: “The beauty of the cup is that you don’t focus on your league form, that is completely irrelevant. The main focus is Hull FC away and getting the win there.

“It’s all about one match and getting through. You can win ugly, it’s just about getting through to that next round.

“We’ve been inconsistent, but attitude-wise we’re really up there and we can take confidence from that.”

McMeeken is expecting a physical encounter at Hull.

He added: “There are probably tougher draws, but it’s definitely a tough draw away at Hull.

“At home they are a tough team to beat. The crowd is like an 18th man for them and we know we need to go there and play well to win.

“It’s an exciting challenge and we’re looking forward to it. Hull are going to be up for it and so are we.

“They have been similar to us, they’ve been a bit mixed so far. But their league form will be irrelevant as well and it will just be a one game shoot-out so I’m expecting a physical game from them. They’ve got a big pack, led by the likes of Scott Taylor and Gareth Ellis, and have some skilful players at the back.

“We need to match them down the middle and in the outside backs as well. They’ve got some skilful players, but we have as well and we’ve just got to take our chances.”