RISING STAR Jake Trueman reckons Castleford Tigers can’t afford to ease off tonight.
Tigers are going into their final match of the Betfred Super-8s, at league leaders St Helens, on a five-game winning run.
They will finish third – and face a trip to second-placed Wigan Warriors in next week’s semi-final – whatever happens this evening, but Trueman insists it is still a big game.
“I think we’ve got to go full out and build some momentum,” said the 19-year-old stand-off. “I think it has come at the perfect time, a big game against a good club who are top of the league.
“If we can get a win there that will boost confidence going into the semis.”
Though Tigers crushed Wakefield Trinity 42-10 a week ago, Trueman, who has been shortlisted for the Super League young player of the year award, reckons they will need to be better to claim the points tonight.
“It was one of those when you’ve just got to get the win and get through it,” he reflected.
“Wakefield had obviously been told to throw the ball around and basically do what they want out there so it was a tough game. We feel like we are building momentum.
“We’ve got everyone back except for one or two injuries so that’s good.
“We are getting people back at the right time and we’ve been putting in some good performances, but we’ve got loads to improve – which is promising.”
Tigers have kept the opposition scoreless for one half of each of their five wins since the opening Super-8s loss at Wigan and the way they are defending is a good sign for tonight and the play-offs, according to Trueman.
“We’ve put massive emphasis on that over the last month or so,” he added. “We’ve been keeping teams to only one or two scores and they say defence wins you Grand Finals.”
Semi-final opponents Wigan are the only team with a 100 per cent winning record in the Super-8s, but Trueman insists the trip to DW Stadium next week holds no fears.
“We’ve lost there twice this season, but we’ve been nowhere near our best,” he said. “In the second game we were shocking in the first half and we only lost by a couple of points. We are confident we can go there and get the win.”
Tigers will be without captain Michael Shenton, who has a knee injury, tonight and Greg Eden, Junior Moors and Mike McMeeken are all rested.
Joe Wardle could return from a calf muscle injury and James Clare, Jamie Ellis, Quentin Laulu-Togaga’e and Will Maher are vying for a recall.
Seventeen-year-old academy second-rower Lewis Peachey is also included .
Saints’ Jon Wilkin, Jonny Lomax and Luke Thompson are all rested.
James Roby is set to return alongside former Leeds forward Kyle Amor, Louie McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Matty Costello and Jake Spedding.
St Helens: from Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Fages, Roby, Amor, Taia, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Knowles, Peyroux, Richardson, Grace, Lees, Ashworth, Spedding, Barba, Bentley, Costello.
Castleford Tigers: from Clare, Clark, Ellis, Gale, Laulu-Togaga’e, Maher, Massey, Mata’utia, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Peachey, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Trueman, Wardle, Watts, Webster.
Referee: Scott Mikalauskas (Leigh).
Kick-off: Tonight, 7.45pm.