Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell admits that qualifying for the Super League play-offs is now a tall order, but believes there is still plenty to play for this season.
Castleford go into Sunday’s home game against Warrington six points behind eighth-placed Hull, but with only five matches left to play time is running out to launch a bid for a play-off place.
However, Powell is keen to see his side finish the season well and has warned his players that he will not accept any lack of effort from now until the end of the campaign.
He told the Express: “It’s still possible to reach the play-offs, but it’s unlikely now so our focus needs to be on week to week and finishing as high as we can.
“We need to feel proud of what we’ve done this year. We’ve got five games left and need to ensure the attitude is right for all of them.
“It has been improving for the most part, we just need to be more consistent with it.
“We’re looking for some consistency in the last five games, consistency of effort, and hopefully we’ll get some better results which will give us an opportunity to finish as high up the table as possible.
“I don’t want anybody knocking off. There’s a lot to play for.
“Some players are obviously looking to play every week, but at the moment the consistency in what we’re doing individually and collectively is a fair way off.”
Powell said the players were training well this week after being given some time off to recharge their batteries for the final run-in.
He added: “In the previous Challenge Cup rounds when we’ve not had a game we’ve kept the players in and they’ve worked hard. So it was a good opportunity last week to give them a bit of time off to get away from rugby and to come back in this week feeling pretty refreshed and looking forward to a massive challenge in front of us.
“We’ve got to focus on improving a little bit. Defensively, certainly. Obviously we need to start games better, which is a mentality thing.
“We’ve got to focus on Warrington and coming up with a performance that gives us an opportunity to win the game.
“We’ve got to start better than in our last game at Huddersfield. We got rattled and we didn’t handle it well.
“They are obviously a good side and when they got on the front foot and get on top they can score points rapidly.
“We conceded some tries that were ridiculous to be honest and there is areas we really need to work on.
“We keep talking about our ability to score points and that’s pretty obvious, just as it’s obvious that we are conceding too many. We will continue to work on our attitude and our application to defend. That’s going to be challenged this week, Warrington are similar in lots of ways to Huddersfield and they can put you to the sword if you’re not right on your game.”