IT HAS happened once before but Castleford Tigers captain Michael Shenton does not believe their depleted side can take a fellow title contender by surprise again.
Daryl Powell’s side are missing 10 first-team players for tonight’s visit from Wigan Warriors as fourth faces second in a rearranged Super League game.
A fortnight ago, the West Yorkshire club was in a similar plight yet still pulled off a shock 34-30 win at high-flying Warrington Wolves.
But centre Shenton said: “After what happened there, there’s no chance Wigan will be under-estimating us.
“Maybe against Warrington we did look pretty bare on numbers but we had a real good attitude towards that game. The pressure was off us that night; we just went out and played.
“But it’s a bit different now. There’s more pressure on us. Wigan won’t take us lightly and we’re at home where we’re due a good performance as we’ve not been great.
“It’s second versus fourth as well and also our match in hand, so it is a big game for a lot of reasons. We’re ready for it.”
Castleford drew 24-24 at home to struggling Hull KR on Sunday but were left with only 13 fit players at the end – Adam Milner, Joe Wardle, Mike McMeeken and Jesse Sene-Lefao all suffering injuries.
Of them, only Wardle is available tonight but Powell is also bereft of Greg Minikin, Oli Holmes, Alex Foster and Calum Turner from the squad that faced Rovers.
Wigan coach Shaun Wane had bemoaned the fact he has three players on England duty but that pales into insignificance now.
It is a challenge. People are saying a lot’s happened to Wigan – they’ve had a lot of adversity recently – but to go to Hull and get a win like they did is a real statement that they are back.Michael Shenton
Shenton, who led Castleford to a first-ever top-place finish last term, admitted: “We have a lot of key players missing and the side looks totally different again to what it did last week.
“It’s looking different again this week, to be honest, and it does make it difficult for combinations.
“But the boys are having a dig and just getting on with it. There’s still a real positive feel around the camp.
“We went through something like this a few seasons ago and it takes a good squad effort to get through it. We’re doing that and whoever comes in to fill the shirt has to get the job done.
“It is a challenge. People are saying a lot’s happened to Wigan – they’ve had a lot of adversity recently – but to go to Hull and get a win like they did is a real statement that they are back.”
After Wane announced he was leaving at the end of the season, Wigan lost their next three matches and also saw the departure of Joel Tomkins after his controversial drunken video.
However, they did snatch victory at Hull and now aim to complete a double over their hosts.
Shenton, though, admits he remains pleased with how Castleford, last year’s beaten Grand Finalists, have coped with so much strife in 2018.
The former England international said: “There’s been some real positives out of this season.
“We’ve had quite a lot go against us but at the same time we’ve come through most of the challenges already and we’re in a good spot in the table.
“That’s the most important thing; we’ve given ourselves a real shot. We’re past halfway now, we’ve more than half the job done and now must crack on.”
Meanwhile, he celebrates his testimonial tomorrow along with Adrian Morley when they coach Yorkshire and Lancashire sides in the Origin Legends game at Wheldon Road. The likes of Gaz Ellis, Rob Burrow, Paul Sculthorpe, Jimmy Lowes, Iestyn Harris and, of course, Wayne ‘Wagga’ Godwin are all set to feature.
Shenton, 32, said: “It’s great to see all the Legends getting their boots back on and I can’t wait for it now. It’s even better it being at Cas but it’ll be a big challenge.
“Moz will have them all fired up and there’s a lot of effort gone into making this happen.
“It should be a fantastic day, Alex Simmons and Rugby AM have been superb with their time and passion, and we all want the concept to grow.”