Head coach Daryl Powell believes his Castleford Tigers team are in a good place as they continue their build-up to the Betfred Super League play-offs.
The Tigers take on local rivals Wakefield Trinity tomorrow night in their penultimate Super 8s game and Powell sees the derby as a chance for his players to fine tune their game before the play-off semi-final to come next month.
He has been happy with progress made in recent weeks as Cas have strung four successive wins together and wants to see further improvement against a Trinity side on target to finish in fifth place for the second year running.
“We’re in a good place now, but nothing’s done yet, we’ve got to keep steeling ourselves and keep improving,” said Powell.
“We need to keep playing well and hopefully nothing jumps out of a box at us this year.
“We’re happy where we’re at. But we’re not so content we’re just going to sit on our hands.
“The one thing we’ve done over the last month is work hard. We’ve trained hard and I think we needed it to be ready to play finals football. It’s got us in a good place and the players have seen that it’s working.”
Powell does not mind that the Tigers have gone under the radar a little this year and have not been talked about so much.
He said: Everybody’s talked about Saints this year, we had that last year. Wigan, because of what they did against St Helens, are being talked about, rightly, as well.
“For us I don’t think it matters. We’ve got the experience of being there and knowing what it’s all about.
“I don’t think it matters if we have got to go to St Helens or Wigan, we’ve got to go there and win a game of rugby league – and I think we’re capable of doing it.
“Hopefully we will have most of the players in our squad fit and we’ll be able to have a real good go at it.
“The motivation is there that we were so close last year and couldn’t do it when it really mattered.
“I think that really rankles with a lot of players. We’ve had a few bits to go though this year and dealt with them admirably.”
Castleford are likely to have Luke Gale back this week, but will be without Joe Wardle and Oliver Holmes again.
Powell explained: “Luke Gale will be available. He’s come through okay.
“He shouldn’t really have played against Hull. He’s been out so long and we’ve been training hard as well. He’s obviously found that real difficult.
“He got a little bit of a strain in his side before the Hull game and decided to go on with it. We decided best not to put him in another game. But hopefully he will be right this week.
“Oli Holmes has a grade two hamstring and is going to be a few weeks. Joe Wardle’s got a calf injury and he’s not available. Hopefully he could come back for potentially the Saints game or certainly the play-off game. But I thought our back-rowers were pretty immense last week.
“I’ve just got a decision to make in a couple of positions but we won’t be too far off what we were last week.”