CASTLEFORD Tigers have been rocked by news that influential prop forward Craig Huby could be out of action for the rest of the season.
Huby (pictured), who has been in the form of his life this season and was being tipped by many to make the England squad for the Exiles game, was stretchered off in Monday’s game away at St Helens after damaging his knee in a tackle on Sia Soliola.
He went into hospital on Tuesday and is likely to stay there until the weekend with early estimates putting it as at least the end of August before he will be back playing.
Tigers boss Terry Matterson admitted it was a big blow to lose the club’s longest serving player, especially at a time when two other prop forwards were sidelined.
He said: “Craig has been operated on and he looks like being out for a long time.
“The operation went well, but he has suffered a fractured patella. We’re not too sure about the timescale for his recovery, but it looks like it’s going to be a minimum of four months out for him.
“Fingers crossed it won’t be any longer and we are hoping we may get him back this season, but the worst case scenario is it could be a 12 monther.
“It’s a real blow for Craig. Along with James Graham I think he has been the best front rower in the competition this year.
“He was great on the weekend again and pulled off some great hits. The one where he did his knee was a great shot.
“We’re going to miss him and we’ve got Jonny Walker and Nick Fozzard out as well in his position. We’re really being tested, but we are confident we can put a team out to do a job.
“It will be a while before Jonny returns and Nick Fozzard’s got a knee injury as well. Nothing too major, but probably Friday will be too quick for him.
“Nathan Massey is a possibility to bring in, but Steve Snitch played some front row for us at St Helens and we’ll look at that as well. We’ll look at Leeds and work out who the best person is to come in.”
Huby’s injury compounded a disappointing Easter for the Tigers as they let leads slip to lose to local rivals Wakefield and new Super League leaders St Helens.
With another huge derby date with Leeds Rhinos to come at the Probiz Coliseum tomorrow it does not get any easier, but Matterson believes his side are due a change of fortune.
He said: “I could not be any more proud of the boys’ efforts against St Helens. We were on the wrong end of some tough ones that didn’t go our way. Hopefully our turn will come to get those.
“Every kick, every bounce of the ball seemed to go against us. Having gone through the video we’ve only had five tackles on three occasions and the opposition have had seven tackles once. It makes it pretty hard.
“I thought it was a wonderful performance so to lose the way we did was tough.
“I knew we would respond from the Wakefield match. We should have done better on Friday night and the boys know that. They put the cue in the rack too early and the players didn’t respect the ball or the opposition. In the end we got what we deserved.
“But we got the reaction we were looking for and we need more of that this Friday.
“We controlled the ball against St Helens and didn’t make any mistakes on the back end, we just had a couple of calls go against us. I thought we were doing everything right. We need another performance like this now and I’m confident we would then get a win.
“It was disappointing for the crowd last Friday and we’re looking to put that right. They were singing and enjoying it against Wakefield and it got turned on us. We’d love another big crowd and a good atmosphere and we want to do the business.
“We need to play well. It doesn’t matter who we play against if we play well we feel we are in with a chance of beating anyone, be it Leeds, St Helens, Wigan or Warrington.
“Leeds is the task this Friday and we’ve got to treat them with a lot of respect because if we don’t we know what they can do to us.
“They have so many good players that it was only a matter of time before they turned things round and I’m not surprised they had two wins over Easter.
“It’s good to see Danny McGuire back on the field. You don’t wish injury on anyone so it’s good he’s back playing again. I’m a real fan of his, but he has caused us some problems in the past.
“You want to play teams when they are at their best and have their best players, it makes the challenge even better.
“We’re looking forward to it. The players are feeling a massive disappointment from the Easter games and we need to dust ourselves off quickly. The reaction can go two ways – you can feel sorry for yourself and it can be a real let down or we can build on what we did on Monday. That’s what we’re going to attempt to do, albeit without Craig Huby.”