CASTLEFORD TIGERS are “a hell of a team”, but will be facing the best in Betfred Super League” tomorrow, captain Michael Shenton says.
Tigers began round seven in third place, two points behind table-topping St Helens who visit the Jungle tomorrow evening.
Castleford got back to winning ways, after their first defeat of the season at Warrington Wolves, with a nervy 24-20 success against Salford Red Devils five days ago, but Shenton reckons tomorrow night is a step up.
“You’ve got to give credit to Salford, they really challenged us,” he said of last weekend’s battle. “They are such a smart team and well coached, they had some set plays that stung us and from us there were too many knock offs.
“Our ability to defend our line wasn’t good enough and we spoke straight after the game about what’s coming against St Helens. They are the best team in the competition at the moment, without doubt.
“The way they are playing – defending and attacking – they are really going to challenge us, so we have to improve.
“There’s no doubt about that, but if we want to do something this year we have to raise it for the really big games.”
Tigers failed to beat Saints, who finished as league leaders, in four meetings in all competitions last year. Tomorrow is a showdown between the most consistent sides over the past two years and Shenton – a Grand Final try scorer for Saints in 2011 – insisted: “It is a big game for us.
“We didn’t do ourselves justice against St Helens last year and they are setting the benchmark. We know we need to be better to get the job done against them.
“It’s about ourselves and growing our belief and our confidence. We know we have a hell of a team here and we should be challenging right at the top, but we have got to be better in the really big games.”
If we want to do something this year we have to raise it for the really big games.Michael Shenton
What is good enough to beat most teams won’t be sufficient tonight, according to Shenton. He added: “St Helens are one of the teams that’s going to be right up there at the end of the year challenging for everything.
“We know what’s in front of us, but we got the game done [last week] without being at our best.
“We showed glimpses of what we can do when we put our foot down and play well at speed and we are a bit tighter defensively, but maintaining that for 80 minutes is what we will have to so against Saints.
“You can’t knock off because they have got players who are going to get you.
“Right across our 13 we’ve got a big challenge, but it’s what we play for. We are at home, we are unbeaten here so far and let’s give them a good game.”
Grant Millington is available after a two-game ban and James Clare is also added to the 17 chosen against Salford. Saints coach Justin Holbrook will select from the players who won at Huddersfield Giants last week, plus Kyle Amor and Aaron Smith.
Castleford Tigers: from Clare, Clarkson, Cook, Eden, Egodo, Foster, Holmes, Massey, Mata’utia, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, Rankin, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Trueman, Watts.
St Helens: from Lomax, Makinson, Naiqama, Percival, Grace, Fages, Walmsley, Roby, Thompson, Taia, Paulo, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Knowles, Amor, Peyroux, Lees, Ashworth, Smith, Coote.
Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 7.45pm.