Castleford Tigers have been hit by injuries and a suspension ahead of their home game with Huddersfield Giants on Saturday (kick-off 3pm).
Head coach Ian Millward (pictured) was left counting the cost of a difficult Easter with at least three first team players ruled out of the Giants match and Australian outside back Justin Carney set for suspension at last night’s RFL disciplinary committee meeting.
Carney, who has already been banned for two matches this season for fighting, was charged with making a dangerous throw in the 29th minute of the 48-18 defeat at St Helens on Monday and could be suspended for up to three games.
Ahead of the disciplinary meeting Millward said he expected to lose Carney and his absence would contribute to making the Tigers squad look bare.
He told the Express: “It’s more about who’s available rather than who will play this week.
“We’ve definitely got Grant Millington out and Jake Webster through injury and Justin Carney out through suspension. Adam Milner’s definitely out as well.
“I thought we really missed Jake Webster in the last couple of games. He’s been a tough presence on and off the field and he’s really helped marshall our defence.
“We are waiting for a diagnosis on his knee, but at the moment we are not sure how bad it is so he’s out for an indefinite period.
“Kirk Dixon’s had a virus, but might come back and we’re hopeful that Lee Gilmour might be back after he missed the St Helens game.
“The positive was Charlie Martin made his debut against St Helens and acquitted himself well. He is likely to stay in the squad because we are short on troops.
“The trouble is that because of the size of our squad when you have four out it puts a real strain on us.
“We’ve got to try and look at bringing in one or two reinforcements over the next few weeks if that is possible.”
Millward was unhappy with the way his side played in the Easter defeats to Wakefield and Saints and knows the biggest area they need to improve.
He said: “We weren’t strong enough in the forwards. In both games we got beaten up in the pack.
“We’ve got to fix up our ruck area. We got pushed in that area against Wakefield and St Helens – and Huddersfield are one of the biggest teams in Super League. If we don’t win the ruck area we are going to be on the back foot.
“But we’ve shown enough times this year that we can compete and are more than capable of winning a game.
“The Easter weekend I thought both games we were very flat and we’ve got to get that sharpness back into us this week.
“The extra day has been very helpful after the game was moved to Saturday.”
Millward acknowledged it will be a tough game against a Giants side in second place in Super League, but will remind his players how they beat them convincingly at the Cas ground last season.
He added: “Huddersfield have recruited massively, size wise and quality wise. Their size going forward is their strength, but we are looking to pick up in the ruck area, defence and line speed.
“I’d be surprised if Rangi Chase didn’t have a big game this week.
“We beat them last year and we need to show the players a few clips from that game.
“The spirit in the camp is still good. It’s probably been the biggest eye opener with the way the players have been very solid and the way they are going about their business.”