Our Batley experience can be key says Castleford coach

Jamie Ellis: Experience of playing at Batley.
Jamie Ellis: Experience of playing at Batley.

Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell believes his previous experience of Mount Pleasant and its infamous slope is a big plus factor for his team ahead of Sunday’s fourth round Tetley’s Challenge Cup tie against Batley Bulldogs.

The Tigers have not played at Batley since 2007, but Powell was a regular visitor when in charge of Featherstone Rovers and reckons it is a definite advantage to have experienced the unique ground before.

Several of his first team squad have played there as well – Liam Finn and Jamie Ellis more recently and fresh faced youngsters at the time Michael Shenton, Craig Huby and Ryan Boyle, who were part of the Cas team that won 42-6 in 2007.

“We are going to get challenged by several things. The environment and the field is not somewhere we travel every week,” Powell told the Express.

“I’ve got a real awareness of what Batley’s like and how tough a place it is to go and get a result. I think it’s in our favour that I’ve been there before.

“We’ve got some players in our squad who played there before so that’s good as well. It always helps to have a bit of experience in there.

“We need to go there and play well, there’s no doubt.

“We’re going to be challenged, they are a good side. They have lost a few players from last year, but they are still a good side and we’ll pay them due respects and prepare accordingly to go there and get the right performance which will get us the result.”

Powell intends to pick a strong squad for the cup tie.

He said: “I’m not going to start experimenting too much, it’s not a game for that. We’ve got a deep squad with lots of quality players and we’ll be going there with a strong team.

“I won’t be going there thinking we are just going to rock up and win this game, it’s not the right attitude.

“There’s potential for a few changes, but I don’t want to make too many. I want to maintain the way we have playing.

“But we have a few players who are available again after injury. Scott Wheeldon, Ryan Boyle and Ashley Gibson are back in contention so we’ve got more players available this week and I’ve got to make a selection that gets the best out of our team and gets the result.”

Powell is not worried about Castleford’s recent poor record against Championship sides in the Challenge Cup, having lost to Featherstone and Barrow and squeaked home against Halifax.

He said: History’s history and there’s no point worrying about that too much in terms of where teams have beat you before. We hadn’t won at Hull KR for 20 years and it didn’t stop us doing it this year.

“It’s about this current team and what it could it deliver, not getting sidetracked by anything, just focusing on what we’re about as a group and delivering a good performance.

“I’m confident we can do that. I think we’ve got all the ingredients we need to play well consistently and that includes the Challenge Cup.

“The fact we’re playing a Championship club is of no consequence to me really. We’re looking at what they’re about and seeing where their strengths and weaknesses are as we do every week, just prepare as well as we can to get a result.”

While he is not looking any further than Sunday’s tie, Powell sees a good cup run as being a big thing for the club.

He said: “The cup is important to the club. We only play in two competitions, unless you count the play-offs as a separate competition, and we want to be successful in everything we do this year.

“The cup is a fantastic part of Castleford’s history and we want to play well in it.

“If we can have a good cup run alongside maintaining our form in the league campaign then that will be fantastic for us.

“But we’re not going to look too far ahead of ourselves. It’s focusing on what we’ve got in front of us and it’s an important game against Batley. We’ll get that done and we can look towards the next round, but first and foremost is playing well in this game.”