Castleford Tigers may be taking a 10-point lead into the Super 8s, but there will be no slackening off according to head coach Daryl Powell.
While the temptation may be to ease off to save energies for the end of season play-offs Powell wants the intensity to continue and reckons the nature of the competition with all the top teams playing each other from here on in will help keep his players focused.
He said: “If you hold something back you get beat and I don’t see anything in that.
“We want to play well every week. There’s nothing for sitting and resting and not working hard. You need to roll up every week and put in 80 minute performances, hopefully we will be able to do that.
“We’ve got a big lead at the moment and we want to maintain that and keep winning games. We have to stay positive, stay focused, keep working hard and keep picking points up.
“Any one of these teams we are playing against could be in the Grand Final and you want to make sure you’ve got the ascendancy.
“You see the finishing line in the distance and that should narrow our focus to getting the job done. It’s 80 minutes of football, nine times. It’s not a lot. The players now know exactly what’s in front of them and it’s now just delivering on a weekly basis.”
Powell believes the opening Super 8s fixture at home to St Helens tonight is the perfect match as his players know they are in for a tough contest straight away against opponents in good form who have plenty to play for with wins needed to climb into a top four place.
He said: “I see it being a real challenge. Saints are playing the best football they have all year.
“I can tell you exactly what they’re going to do, but we’ve got to stop them doing it and then deliver our game on them. We know if we don’t play well we’ll get beaten. I think it’ll be a cracking game, I really do. They are probably the form team in the comp at the minute and we’re doing all right – we are winning games consistently.
“I think it’s important we maintain our home form and this is the best possible game for us to start off.
“You can’t go dipping your toe into this water with St Helens at the moment. It will be a really tough game and I think we’ll have to be right at our best to win it. They’ll come and challenge us in every department.”
Powell added: “I hope it will be another big crowd. It says a lot about the fans, that they have an influence and are really vocal. We enjoy playing here, they enjoy coming to watch us and there’s a bit of something special in that connection at the moment. Hopefully we can maintain that.
“I think the players will be fresh and ready to go again. They have had four days off which is a bit of a luxury in a rugby league season and looked pretty good when they got back into training.
“We threw a fair bit at them and it’ll have opened their eyes to what’s going to be thrown at them this week, so we’re looking forward to the challenge.”