Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is banking on rest being the best cure as his players head for the Magic Weekend looking to get over the disappointment of narrow defeats in their last two games.
The Tigers head from one big local derby to another when they take on Wakefield Wildcats at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday and should need little extra motivation to bounce back from a 22-14 defeat to Leeds Rhinos last week.
But crucially they have had more preparation time with a full week’s training and were given a some time off by the head coach after their exertions in the previous three weeks that saw them have to play five games in 20 days.
Even with their bigger squad this year the hectic schedule appeared to take its toll on the Cas players in the second half against the Rhinos – when they failed to score – and Powell is pleased they have had longer to build-up to the next game.
He said: “The players had four days off and some of the boys went for a little break somewhere, which I think they needed. Sometimes you need to get your head out of rugby.
“It’s been a pretty tough schedule, but the players are refocused now and have trained well so far this week.
“There’s some new challenges coming up and the first of them against Wakefield is a crucial game for us to sort of stabilise our season.
“It’s important to get a result, but obviously Wakefield will be looking to build on what they’ve done over the last few weeks and will be feeling confident about themselves.
“They have been away to Hull and Widnes and won so their spirit’s growing. They have good players in there and their combinations are getting better all the time, so it’s going to be challenging for us.”
Despite the back to back defeats Powell believes his side have not been far away and is confident they can get back to winning ways so long as they continue to work together.
He said: “We’re playing well. We’ve lost a couple of tight games, but within that we’ve played some fantastic rugby league so we are not getting too down on ourselves.
“We’re nearly half-way through the season now and we’re in a positive position. We’ve got a new block starting, with the way we split games up, and it gives us a new focus.”
Powell is likely to juggle his team again for the Wakefield game with James Clare, Richard Owen, Michael Channing and Jamie Ellis all hoping for a recall and forward Lee Jewitt available after his move from Limoux.
Powell will check on the fitness of full-back Luke Dorn following his hamstring injury, but will be without forwards Nathan Massey and Dan Fleming as well as Ryan Boyle, who is out for the season.
He added: “I’m not sure Luke Dorn’s going to come through and be available, but we’ll be pretty strong. Lee Jewitt has started training with the team and is in contention. He will give us options.
“There’s potential for a couple of changes. We’ve got a lot who are playing well, but there’s a couple who need to step up a little bit. But I still think we are in a good place.”