CASTLEFORD Tigers captain Michael Shenton last night revealed there has been player-led clear-the-air talks as the club strives to rescue its ailing season.
They hurtled out of the Challenge Cup on Saturday following a worrying collapse at Hull FC, the sort of inept display that is so unrecognisable from the team that impressed so much in 2014 and actually reached Wembley.
Castleford’s inconsistency this time has stifled them badly so far but they have a swift chance to redeem themselves when they host Huddersfield Giants in tonight’s televised Super League game.
“Everyone knows how disappointing it was at the weekend,” admitted Shenton, after Tigers lost 40-14 at KC Stadium, despite trailing just 16-14 on the hour.
“Everyone can see the hurt was there. It’s been a bad weekend. To get knocked out of the cup after what we went through last year... we know how special it can be.
“It took some honest words on Monday morning. I’m not going to lie to you – it was a pretty tough day. We knew at the end of it we’d get all this out in the open and move on pretty sharpish as there’s a big game now against a team in a similar position to us.
“We need a reaction, not just for what happened Saturday but from the last time we played Huddersfield as they did a number on us (22-0) at their place.”
Sixth-placed Castleford have won seven and lost seven of their 14 league games so far but still only sit just a point behind tonight’s opponents in fourth.
There is a chance to reach the upper echelons and even improve on last season’s best-ever Super League finish of fourth but only if they act fast.
“Daryl (Powell) and the other coaches do drive a lot but this Monday me and the other senior boys took control of it,” said Shenton, on that crucial meeting.
“I think it had to come from the players from within.
“It is a little bit of a concern (not being able to find consistency). It’s something we’re working incredibly hard on in training – trying to up our standards up where we need to be as a team,” he said.
“Everyone is driving each other and keeping the enthusiasm and confidence there is key as, obviously, we’ve shown we’ve been fantastic at some points and dreadful at others.
“But you should never be dreadful. Some of the performances we’ve put together should never happen in a Cas shirt.
“For me, it’s just pretty disappointing that we’ve got this far in to the season and we’re still talking about this.
“We should have moved on past this now and that’s for us as players and coaching staff to move together. But we’re also saying it’s not the end of the world as there’s lots to play for.
“We’re in a decent position in the league and everyone is in the mix but you can either get kicked out of that mix or decide it’s a flipping point for our season.
“We flip that inconsistency – and go after the league.”
Powell has shown his disdain by dropping former Melbourne Storm second-row Junior Moors following some poor displays plus winger James Clare and he has promised more will follow unless things improve.
However, Huddersfield will be keen tonight, too – they have their own atoning to do after a dire defeat in the Challenge Cup at holders Leeds Rhinos.
Meanwhile, Leeds hooker Rob Burrow, 32, has agreed a new two-year contract that will see the ex-England star finish his career as a one-club man.
Hull KR have signed Wigan Warriors prop James Greenwood on loan for the rest of 2014 and Leigh Centurions have paid Warrington Wolves £50,000 for Mickey Higham after the 34-year-old hooker put in a transfer request.