CASTLEFORD boss Terry Matterson has issued a rallying call to his players and supporters ahead of a Carnegie Challenge Cup tie at Wakefield he has labelled a “must win”.
Wounded Tigers go into Saturday’s big fifth round clash on the back of their worst performance of the season in a 62-0 mauling by Warrington Wolves and look like being without at least six injured first teamers, but Matterson believes they still have enough ability in the side to progress.
With more than just local pride at stake the head coach sees the clash as crucial for the club’s season and reckons the players have every motivation for doing well.
Matterson (pictured) told the Express: “There couldn’t be any more to play for, to be honest, so we’re looking for a reaction from the players after last week.
“If you can’t get up for this game then there’s something wrong. It’s a local derby with the quarter-final of the cup at stake so it doesn’t get more exciting. We’ve got to find a way to win.
“I’m not hopeful of getting anyone back who hasn’t been playing and obviously Paul Jackson and Martin Aspinwall have to be doubtful so we’ve got to do it tough, but we’ve got the ability to get the job done.
“We’ve got a good chance to reach the quarter-finals of the Challenge Cup if we play with the right intensity and play a lot smarter than we have been.
“We struggled with the whole game last week so maybe it’s good that we have such a big game to focus on immediately to give us a chance to put some of the things right.
“The bottom line is we’ve got to win this game. They’ve got to win this game and there’s a list of reasons as long as your arm as to why it’s so important.
“The be all and end all is we want to go into the next round of the Challenge Cup.”
Matterson knows that his side will have to rediscover their form from the opening three months of the season and must get over their Easter hangover.
He said: “We’re really worried about how we’re going and we’re working hard to try to turn it around quickly. There’s only one way we can go.
“I’m looking for everyone to step up. We need one to 17 to step up and play with a passion they haven’t been playing with in the last couple of Super League games.
“It obviously wasn’t there on Friday night and that’s wore away over the last couple of games.
“We’ve shown in the first 11 rounds of the competition that we are a very good side. We’ve obviously been hit with some adversity, some injuries and a really tough Easter programme, but now’s the time to show what we’ve got.
“The squad’s being tested, but everyone in the side is capable.”
Matterson will leave his final selection down to the last possible minute to give any of his injured players a chance of playing, but changes are likely with Steve Snitch, Daryl Clark and Jordan Thompson all coming back into contention after being left out at Warrington.
Castleford will be without long term injury victims Craig Huby and Jonathan Walker as well as backs Willie Isa and Nick Youngquest, who are still on the recovery trail, while Jackson (back) and Aspinwall (calf) are being monitored this week. Richard Owen, however, is expected to be available after suffering concussion at Warrington.
“We’re not 100 per cent sure what our side is going to be yet, but everyone that makes the 17 is capable of doing the job,” said Matterson.
“I said straight after Friday’s game that there would be changes, but it’s probably been made more difficult with the injuries. Obviously there’s a good chance of Aspinwall and Jackson not being right so the options are narrowed.
“I’m not too sure if wholesale changes is what’s needed, but I’m having a good hard look at a few people.
“We’re light on front rowers and Steve Snitch has played there for Wakefield so we’ll have a look at that one.
“Daryl and Jordy have been good for us and they were rolled around last weekend. In hindsight I’m glad I did that. It’s been a long year for Daryl Clark and I’m mindful of the fact that we don’t want to kill these guys.
“It was tough for the young lads and they don’t come any tougher for any team than last Friday. It seemed like right from the time when we got there that everything went wrong.”
Matterson added: “We are a bit down on confidence and the Easter period killed us, not just physically, but mentally. It all came to a head at Warrington. Sometimes it hits you a week or two later and that’s what’s happened.
“Obviously losing two guys in the warm-up didn’t help. Even though Aspinwall started he only played five minutes after tearing his calf in the warm-up and while he was being patched up they scored the first try.
“There were some reasons there for the performance certainly, but we’re still a better side than that even with all those injuries.
“Everything went for Warrington. All credit to them, they were outstanding and aggressive defensively.
“We couldn’t catch a ball in the first half and in every aspect of the game they totally dominated - the scoreline doesn’t lie.
“There was adversity, but we’ve coped better with it in the past.
“They are the best side we have played this year. They were good in every area and it’s going to be a challenge for everyone to topple them. I know Wigan are the champions and we haven’t played them yet, but I think Warrington are going to be the side to beat.”
Deadline for advance tickets for the Wakefield game is 1pm on Friday. All funds from tickets sold in the club shop – priced £15 (adults), £10 (concessions) and £5 (juniors) – go directly to the Tigers. The prices increase by £2 when paying at the gate.
Tigers have received notice of possible traffic congestion that may affect supporters attending Saturday’s cup clash at Wakefield.
Motorists may possibly experience potential delays due to the new openings of the Trinity Walk Shopping Centre and the Hepworth Gallery.
Traffic congestion is likely on all major routes both into and out of Wakefield on match day and the Wildcats recommend that supporters use public transport, car share or use independent supporter coaches to ease the traffic congestion.
Supporters from Castleford are recommended to park around Heath Common, which is only a short walk away.