Castleford boss confident players can handle final occasion

Daryl Powell.
Daryl Powell.

Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is unconcerned that his team have been installed as favourites to win their first Betfred Super League Grand Final on Saturday.

Opponents Leeds Rhinos have won seven previous Grand Finals and this will be their tenth appearance in the Old Trafford showpiece, but the Tigers are the bookies favourites after finishing 10 points clear in the league this year and having beaten their West Yorkshire rivals four times in 2017.

Castleford are making history by being in the final for the first time and they are aiming to become only the fifth different side to triumph. Head coach Powell is confident they will rise to the occasion.

He said: “I’m not bothered who are favourites, I don’t think it matters one way or the other.

“It’s all about turning up and playing, whether we’re favourites or not won’t change it. It’s how we handle Old Trafford.

“I think we’ll cope with the stadium and the atmosphere.

“There’s quite a few players who played in the 2014 Challenge Cup final so there’s some experience there and we’ve been playing in big games throughout the season.

“There was another one against St Helens and there’ll be some lessons to learn from that. We just need to come up with our best performance.

“It is a cauldron absolutely. When you walk out into the Theatre of Dreams it goes pretty steep and there’s such a noise that hits you.

“But we’ve got some experience in the coaching staff and some of our players.

“We’ll handle it, there’s a confidence about us and we just need to turn up and do as well as we possibly can.”

Powell reckons that having beaten the Rhinos four times already this year will count for little come kick-off time.

He said: “Leeds are a very dangerous team if you allow them to play with verve and offload and speed.

“They are growing at the end of the season and they’ve got some big game players.

“For us, we know the challenge, we know they are going to play well and we have to play well.

“We’ve beaten them four times this year, but three of the games were pretty tight for most of the game and we’ve come out on top by being better in certain aspects.

“There’s not much between the teams. We’ve just been able to play outstandingly well against Leeds so far.

“We know all about Leeds. We know what they do really well, we think we know where their weaknesses are. They know a lot about us, it’s about who can come up with the best plan.

“Brian McDermott has used quite a few motivational things across the games we’ve had this year. He’s thrown another couple of things in there, but for me it’s about who’s the best team on the day.”

Powell knows how much it means to Cas fans to get one over their big city rivals.

He added: “There’s a massive rivalry, amongst the fans more than anything.

“It’s a big city against a small town and it will be a massive atmosphere.

“We know so much about each other. It’s going to be a massive challenge and it’s set fair for a huge game and a huge atmosphere.”

Powell has all 17 players that were on duty for the semi-final against St Helens available, but may make a change with back rower Oliver Holmes back in training after a groin injury.