Head coach Ian Millward is counting on Castleford Tigers fans to help make tonight’s derby with Wakefield Wildcats a classic.
Millward experienced his first Cas-Wakey derbies last year and was impressed with the intensity and the atmosphere at the games.
He said: “I’ve really enjoyed the Castleford-Wakefield derbies since I’ve been here – the one at Belle Vue last year was brilliant and the atmosphere was great.
“The supporters really get into it and I’m looking forward to this year’s derbies. I’m expecting two eagerly contesting teams and a really competitive game and I’m counting on the fans to play their part.
“We need the fans to get behind the team. The fans’ support is vital in a derby game. It’s not only what’s played on the field, it should be competitive with regard to support of your team off the field and getting right behind the players.
“They have been supportive this season and we’ve just got to nail a couple of these games when we get in the positions we’ve been in. We need to give the fans a big win to cheer.
“It’s an eagerly awaited game and we’re really looking forward to it, but we’ve just got to play for a full 80 minutes.”
Millward is pleased to be able to pick from near full strength as his side begin their testing Easter programme.
With the Tigers facing three games in eight days Millward intends to utilise his squad where he can, but wants to pick his strongest possible team for the first of the matches against Wakefield at the Wish Communications Stadium tonight.
Jake Webster is his only doubtful starter after he picked up a shoulder injury in the 26-22 defeat at Hull KR last Sunday, but Cas have a ready made replacement available with Australian powerhouse runner Justin Carney back after a two-match suspension.
Millward said: “Jake Webster’s shoulder’s improving every day and Justin Carney’s back from suspension so we are very close to full strength.
“Justin will come straight back into the 13. He was playing extremely well before he picked up the ban and he’s been missed.
“There’s no other injuries so we’ve done all right there. That’s massive at this time of year and we’ve just got to get through the next three games.
“We’ll rest some players against St Helens on Monday. I’m going to give Steve Nash, Dan Fleming, James Clare, Jake Emmitt and Charlie Martin all good minutes.
“We will have to rotate our team because no-one can be expected to play four games in 12 days. Some players will have to do that, but we’ll try and reduce the burden.
“We’re very conscious of the Saturday game after Easter against Huddersfield at home.”
Millward is expecting a typical derby battle against Wakefield with the local rivals having evenly matched sides and both experiencing ups and downs so far this season.
He said: “There’s nothing between the two teams so it points to a good game.
“I think Wakefield’s got some good players all over the park, but Tim Smith’s an outstanding half-back. He’s a very good organiser, he’s got a great kicking game and a great passing game as well.
“He had a couple of good games against us last year so we have to be aware of his threat. But we have to make sure our own game is in order.”