Daryl Powell admits St Helens are favourites for Saturday’s Ladbrokes Challenge Cup tie at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle, but is backing the one-off nature of the game to bring out the best in his team.
The Castleford Tigers boss has been impressed by Super League leaders Saints this year and reckons nothing less than a best performance of the season will enable the Tigers to advance into the last eight of the competition.
But he was encouraged by the display at Hull despite the result and is hoping his side show the same spark against St Helens.
He told the Express: “We’re coming up against the best team in the competition this season in St Helens so we know we’re going to need to be pretty special across the board.
“They’ve done similar to what we did last year. They’ve got minimal injuries, they’re flying and tearing teams to pieces. They’ve got the best player in the competition at the moment in Ben Barba and they’ve got a lot of players on form.
“St Helens away would have been the toughest game and we got the next toughest! Getting Saints at any point is going to be difficult, the way they are playing, but we’ve got plenty of good players, we’re a good side.
“We’ll be confident, but obviously they are massive favourites so we’ll come with hopefully our best performance and it will need to be that to get the job done. It’s a real challenge for us.
“All our players need to play their best game – we need 10 out of 10s from individual players and we’re going to need a whole lot of commitment and determination to keep them out because they are a challenging team when they’ve got the ball.”
Powell continued: “We haven’t been as consistent as we were last year, but when it comes down to the Challenge Cup it feels a little bit different.
“You get into the grind of the league and it can get tough and monotonous. But when you have a little bit of a fresh challenge like the Challenge Cup it can bring out a freshness and a spark. We showed a real spark last week and I’m hoping we do the same this week.”
Castleford were without an entire back division last week, but hope to have a few back for the cup tie, including loan players recalled, and Powell is hopeful of being able to include Jake Trueman and Grant Millington who picked up knocks at Hull.
He explained: “Jy Hitchcox and Kieran Gill come back from their respective loans and I will make a decision on who it’s going to be who gets in the team.
“We should hopefully get Jake Webster back if he passes his head test. Jake Trueman got a little bit of a whack, but he’ll be okay. Grant Millington has to get through his protocol, but he should be okay.”