NEW SIGNING Liam Watts is set to make his Castleford Tigers debut at home to Warrington Wolves tomorrow and front-row partner Paul McShane reckons he will give the entire team a lift.
Watts joined Tigers from Hull last month, but had to sit out his first two games as a Castleford player after being sent-off for his former club against Warrington. He has been named in Tigers’ initial 19-man squad for tomorrow as they aim to complete a perfect Easter following last Thursday’s 11-6 win at Wakefield Trinity, and McShane said: “It’ll be a nice boost to have him in the team.”
The hooker stressed: “He is one of the best forwards in the league and for us to sign someone like that at this stage is going to lift the team.
“He is training well and he has come in and really knuckled down. He has had a real dig in training and he fits in with all the lads.”
Tigers have had an extra day’s rest on Warrington, who beat Widnes Vikings 32-18 on Friday.
“It is tough for everyone,” McShane said of the Easter double-header. “But it’s our job and we’ve got to meet it head on. Shenny [captain Michael Shenton] has said we’re going to attack this Easter period and that’s what we are going to do.
“We got through [Thursday] all right, we got back in, did our recovery and then had a look at Warrington. They’ve got quality all over the field and they’ve put some really good defensive displays in this year. I think they are going to be a hard team to break down, but hopefully we can come out on top.
“Everyone’s improving and it’s more competitive this season, I think. More teams are evenly-balanced.”
After being crushed 46-6 at St Helens in round one, Tigers have won five successive games and climbed to fourth in the table. McShane said: “We couldn’t have made a worse start, but you don’t win anything in the first round of the season. We’ll keep building and hopefully we can get there towards the back end of the year.”
Though Tigers have not scored a try in the second half of their last three games, McShane reckons grinding out wins now will stand them in good stead later on. He admitted the derby three days ago “wasn’t pretty”, but added: “It was a hard game and I thought our defensive performance was a lot better than last week.
“Conditions probably helped, but when we were under the pump – like we were in the second half – I thought we were great. A win is a win. We probably aren’t at our best, but we are gradually building and hopefully soon we will be able to put that full 80 together.”
Tigers’ attack never got going in last week’s game, but McShane admitted: “We knew it was going to be like that. Wakefield are a big physical side and as well as being big, they can move the ball. We had a big focus on our defence, especially after the poor second half against Leeds and I thought everybody stood up.”
Tigers’ side for tomorrow will be selected from the 17 who beat Wakefield plus Watts and Nathan Massey, who missed last Thursday’s game due to a rib injury.
Warrington have made just one change to their 19-man squad, with Dominic Crosby replacing Morgan Smith.
Castleford Tigers: from Clare, Cook, Ellis, Foster, Gale, Holmes, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, B Roberts, Shenton, Springer, Trueman, Watts, Webster.
Warrington Wolves: Akauola, Atkins, Brown, Charnley, Clark, Cooper, Crosby, Currie, Goodwin, Hill, Hughes, G King, T King, Lineham, Murdoch-Masila, Philbin, Ratchford, T Roberts, Westwood
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).
Kick-off: Today, 1.30pm.