Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is hoping a red hot atmosphere at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle tonight can inspire his team as they bid to overcome the short turnaround they have been handed for the visit of derby rivals Leeds Rhinos.
Leeds are bang in form after beating Wigan and St Helens in the last two weeks and will have the advantage of an extra two days preparation time, but Powell believes the home fans can play a big part in helping the Tigers.
He said: “It’s going to be a hostile environment. Leeds are an experienced team and I don’t think it will bother them too much, but I think it’s something we can feed off.
“This and the Wakefield game is where the supporters come in with an extra spring in their step. It will be an amazing night and we’re looking to justify their support with a good performance.
“As a fan and when I played here you knew the atmosphere was going to be different for the big games.
“I think the expectation is growing with the fans, the team and the whole place so that puts you under a little bit more pressure to perform, but there’s a real connection and there’s a real buzz about the place every time we take the field.
“There’s a real connection between the team and the fans at the moment.
“I’m from the area and understand the people and what makes them tick. I felt like I knew what I needed to do to reconnect the team with the supporters.
“It was something I put a lot of attention on and I’ve done that in previous jobs as well, but here it’s the team I supported as a kid so it’s a team I know a lot about.
“The fans have been unbelievable wherever we’ve been. We went down to London on a Thursday night and I had to move actually from the stand because they were that noisy I couldn’t hear myself think.”
Powell is banking on the ability to bounce back the Tigers have developed this year to stand them in good stead as they look to hit straight back after suffering the narrowest of defeats at Huddersfield.
He said: “It’s not ideal to play a team like Leeds with a short turnaround. But we’ve responded well when we have been beaten so far this season and we’ve responded well when we’ve had short turnarounds so I’m hoping we can do it again. The players I think will be ready.
“I think we’re good enough to challenge Leeds, but we are going to need to be right on the money.
“We know what Leeds are all about, it’s clear to see what their strengths are, and every single one of our players is going to have play right on the edge of their potential to give us a chance of winning.
“I think everybody has said that Leeds are the best team in the comp. They’ve got high quality players in every position and have got such pace.
“Everybody is talking about how good the back division is. People are talking about them being unplayable at times so it’s a tough challenge.
“They are the best ones, the toughest challenges, and we’ve responded to quite a few this year. We’ve got to be confident in what we can deliver.
“You talk about Leeds being the form team, but we’ve scored more points so we can justifiably say we’ve got a fair bit about us from an attacking point of view.
“Leeds have conceded the least points and they’ve been outstanding in that department so it will be interesting to see the challenge that both defences and offences are faced with.”
Powell has made two changes to his squad from last week with full-back Jordan Tansey and centre Ashley Gibson – both former Rhinos players – recalled. He will check on the fitness of Frankie Mariano after he took a knock to the head last week before naming the final 17, but will definitely be without Luke Dorn, who pulled up with a bit of cramp in his hamstring in training and has been ruled out.