Daryl Powell has called on his Castleford Tigers players to improve if they are to shake off their Challenge Cup blues at Super League’s Magic Weekend.
The Tigers are going from big game to big game and after going out of the cup to current leaders St Helens they now face the Leeds Rhinos team that beat them in last year’s Grand Final.
But Cas do have a good record in recent years at Magic Weekend where they beat the Rhinos last year and will be defending an unbeaten record at Newcastle’s St James’s Park.
“Magic’s always a big game, the atmosphere itself creates something a little bit different and a bit special.” Cas boss Powell told the Express.
“We’ve responded to that well over the last few years since I’ve been at the club. We’ve been great at Magic and we get another opportunity here.
“It will be tough against Leeds. They are always durable and hang about and make things tough for you so we need to play well.
“Leeds have been a bit up and down. They’ve had injuries and have been losing games by a couple of points. They won against Widnes in the Challenge Cup in a tight game. They’re mixed, but you can’t take too much notice of that, they’ve got good players.
“It’s about ourselves. We’re not flying and riding high at the moment – we’ve got to look at ourselves and make sure that we improve and we are where we need to be individually.
“I’m calling on the players to improve and that will also help us massively collectively.” Powell identified areas he wants improvements: “We’ve got to defend better – we’ve conceded 30-odd points in the last couple of games.
“From an attacking perspective when we get into a good field position we’ve got to do better. Obviously we’ve lost some key players for us and that’s been difficult and we have not been quite as accurate as we would like to be.
“There’s a couple of areas there that we need to be good at this week.”
Powell expects to have forward Nathan Massey available again after injury, but he will not be making many changes to the team that lost to St Helens.
He explained: “Nathan Massey will be available, but apart from that I don’t think we’ll be getting anyone else back.
“Luke Gale is obviously long term, Ben Roberts is still a few weeks away, as is Greg Eden by the looks.
“I’m not going to make too many changes because I haven’t got too many options.
“I need to check on Gadwin Springer, who picked up a bit of a back injury during the week in training, but there won’t be too many changes.”