Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is backing combative forward Liam Watts to handle the red hot atmosphere on his first return to Hull since his move to his hometown club.
Watts left Hull for Castleford in March with a few words exchanged about their decision to sell him and he is sure to face a hot reception with a big crowd awaiting the prop at the KCOM Stadium on Saturday when he goes back there for the first time with his new team-mates.
But Tigers head coach Powell is confident his forward will be able to handle what is thrown at him and continue his impressive start with Cas.
He told the Express: “I would expect Liam Watts will get a bit of a reception, but I don’t think it will bother him too much.
“He’s a pretty experienced player. He understands it is going to be tough for him going back there, but he will be on the field and will just focus on what he’s got to do.
“He’s settled in really well. He had a bit of an off game when probably he shouldn’t have played against Wigan, but apart from that his performances have been really good for us.
“Some of his lines back across the ruck are different for us. He’s pretty tall and strong, he’s got offloads. We haven’t seen too many of them yet, but I think he’s still coming to terms with exactly how we play and how the players around him play.
“But he had big metres again last week and his metres after contact were outstanding.”
Powell was pleased with the way Watts and his fellow forwards handled a big Wakefield pack last week and is looking for more of the same in Saturday’s game.
He said: “We can expect another big battle this week. It generally is, they are a big, physical team throughout, even their wingers are always difficult to handle.
“Taylor in particular is a very good player. He’s got an offload and he’s difficult to handle on his carries and gets a lot of penalties. In the middle of it all they’ve got an outstanding hooker. Danny Houghton is exceptional. They’re a good team across the field.”
Castleford will be without Luke Gale for the game following the knee injury he picked up last week. The club was expecting news on the extent of the injury yesterday, but Jamie Ellis and Paul McShane will continue as the half-back combination after ending the Wakefield game in those roles.
Powell explained: “As well as Luke, Ben Roberts is still out as are Greg Eden, Nathan Massey and James Clare. We’ll be a little bit patched up, but that team played the second half last week and had a real good control of the game.
“Paul McShane, whether he was playing at nine or half-back, was excellent and Jamie Ellis did some smart things. Those two guys will continue at half-back and I’m confident they’ll do a good job for us.”