FOR CASTLEFORD Tigers, tomorrow’s round-two game at Hull FC is all about building on a positive start.
Tigers kicked off their Betfred Super League campaign with a hard-fought 20-4 win over Challenge Cup holders Catalans Dragons six days ago and prop Liam Watts reckons they will need to show similar tough qualities tomorrow evening.
Watts was the ace in Tigers’ pack last week and feels victory on the opening weekend has given them a platform, but insisted they will need to be good against a home team desperate to get off the mark following their derby defeat.
“We knew that was going to be a tough game, in tough conditions, so it was about possession, looking after the ball and defending well,” Watts said of Tigers’ start.
“There were patches in the first half when we were a bit scrappy, but the first-half effort was really good and clinical.”
Tigers’ defence will need to be spot on again and Watts reckons they have to concede fewer penalties. Referees often clamp down early in the year.
It is just one of those things. That was all over and done with last year. I will still probably get a couple of boos, but apart from that there’s nothing to it now – I am a Castleford player and I am happy here.Liam Watts
And Watts added: “They are always a bit keen at the start of the season, but we will have a look at that and see where we are going wrong. But I thought our goal-line D in the first half was really good and to keep them to nil in the first half was a good start.”
With the ball, Watts believes Tigers will improve as the season goes on.
“We bombed a couple of chances [last week],” he recalled. “But we looked all right and the big thing was winning the game. We want to be winning as many games as we can early doors so it was a good start and it will put us in good stead [for tonight].”
Watts began his career with Tigers, but spent his early years in East Yorkshire at Hull KR and then Hull.
He played 136 Super League games for the black and whites, from 2012 to last year before joining Tigers 11 months ago.
He featured in the sides’ Super League and Super-8s meetings at KCOM Stadium and insisted tomorrow night is just another game.
“It is just one of those things,” he said of returning to his former club. “That was all over and done with last year. I will still probably get a couple of boos, but apart from that there’s nothing to it now – I am a Castleford player and I am happy here.”
Tigers will be without forward Mike McMeeken who suffered concussion against Catalans. Matt Cook has also been ruled out after a knock last week, but Mitch Clark, Tuoyo Egodo, Jacques O’Neill and Ben Roberts are in contention for a call-up.
Hull welcome back England star Jake Connor from suspension and former Tigers forward Joe Westerman has recovered from a knee injury suffered last July. Hakim Miloudi is also in contention, but Dean Hadley drops out owing to an abdominal strain.
Hull (from): Shaul, Faraimo, Tuimavave, Griffin, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Minichiello, Westerman, Connor, Thompson, Dawson-Jones, Matongo, Manu, Lane, Paea, Miloudi, Litten, Washbrook. Castleford Tigers (from): Clare, Clark, Eden, Egodo, Foster, Massey, Mata’utia, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, O’Neill, Rankin, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Trueman, Watts.
Referee: Chris Kendall (Huddersfield). Kick-off: Tomorrow, 7.45pm.