History beckons in France for Castleford Tigers on Saturday if they can produce one last big effort in the regular season to beat Catalan Dragons.
Whatever happens Daryl Powell’s men will be heading for the Super League play-offs, but they could be coming home with the leaders’ shield if St Helens lose their last game at Huddersfield and the Tigers then collect two points less then 24 hours later in Perpignan.
It would be the first time in Castleford’s history that they have ever finished top of the national league while even if Saints get the result they need tomorrow night a victory for the Tigers will clinch second place and their highest ever finish in Super League. It would also be likely to earn them a place in the new three-game World Club Challenge set to take place next season.
The significance of a win and a good performance against Catalan is not lost on head coach Powell.
He told the Express: “It’s a real big opportunity for us now and I’m looking forward to it.
“We don’t know just how much is going to be there to play for. It depends on what happens with Huddersfield and St Helens, but we’ll know exactly what we’ve got to do on Saturday.
“It’s amazing we’re in this position with one game to go that we’re the only team that’s capable of matching Saints and finishing top. We just need to make it a little bit more amazing.
“It’s been an incredible effort from all the players and coaching staff to get us to this point and it’s how we go about it now.
“If Saints win and we end up in second it will still be a great achievement without a doubt. For us to be in the top eight was doubted a little bit at the start of the year, but we’ve been consistent and tough, the players have been superb throughout and whoever has grabbed hold of a shirt has done a great job for us.
“But if Saints do lose it would give us that extra motivation. The Castleford club has never finished top of the competition so for this team to be able to do it would be massive.
“We were always walking in other people’s footsteps in the Challenge Cup, which has been special for us even though we didn’t get the job done in the end. But this is new territory if we could do this and I can’t say how special that would be for us.”
Powell added: “There’s also the chance to take part in the World Club Challenge, which is another incentive.
“It’s obviously for the future into next season and it would be unbelievable for a Castleford side to take a part in that. It’s too far down the track to think of that now, though, it’s what’s in front of us and making sure we get the job done this week.”