Castleford Tigers relish big challenges ahead

Weller Hauraki
Weller Hauraki
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Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is backing his squad to deal with the demands of another tough short turn round they face in the next week.

The Tigers are up against two of Super League’s top teams as they face a fresh Huddersfield Giants side on Sunday and quickly follow-up with a home game against leaders Leeds Rhinos next Thursday with little time for a breather in between.

Victories in both would see Cas go top of the table with almost half the season completed so the players will not be short of motivation, but head coach Powell admits it is a big challenge his players face.

He told the Express: “It will be a real tough game next up against Huddersfield.

“They’ve been sat there looking at us for two weeks. They didn’t have a game last week and they will be targeting this game as a chance to really ramp their season up. There’s absolutely no doubt about this.

“So how we go about this physically and tactically it‘s going to be massive and straight after that we’ve got a massive challenge again when we play Leeds after another short turn round.

“But we’ve been superb in the way we’ve been dealing with things this season and we look forward to these two challenges on the bounce.

“It’s about us focusing on what we’ve got in front of us. The motivation is to hit our standards every week.

“I think we’ve been good at that. We’ve had a couple of drips, but we haven’t been far off on a consistent basis.

“All the key stats you look at that Opta compile on a weekly basis point to us being up there with the very top teams.”

Powell reckons that despite an up and down campaign so far Huddersfield remain one of the best sides in the First Utility Super League.

He said: “Huddersfield have not really been at their best, but they’ve played really well against some of the better teams in the comp. Early on against Wigan they were outstanding, they were unlucky against St Helens in the cup and got a draw against Leeds. So it’s probably a bit of a false position they’re in.

“They will feel they haven’t played their best rugby to date, but you feel it’s just round the corner with them. They’ve got lots of good players in every position and physically they are a real handful.

“The current Huddersfield set up is top quality so we know we face a massive challenge again.”

The Castleford boss is likely to shuffle his squad again as he has done in recent weeks to keep the players as fresh as possible.

But he is down on numbers in the forwards with injuries picked up by front rowers Nathan Massey, Ryan Boyle and Dan Fleming, while full-back Luke Dorn is not expected to be available for the Giants game at least.

Powell added: “Nathan Massey will be out with an ankle injury and looks like being out for a few weeks. Ryan Boyle is going to be out with a knee injury and Dan Fleming’s got a back injury.

“They are all looking like they are going to be medium to long term injuries so we’ve got a bit of an issue there.

“But elsewhere we’re not too bad. We’ve got Weller Hauraki and Andy Lynch to come back after they didn’t play last week. Luke Dorn’s probably another week away, but we’re still looking pretty strong. Michael Channing’s available and we’ve got Richard Owen and James Clare so I’ll have a look at it and see where we need to go with the challenge of another game the following Thursday as well.

“I think we’ve managed things well in the short turn rounds we’ve had so far and we’ll try our best to do it again.”