Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is ready to throw new signing Cheyse Blair straight in at the deep end in tomorrow night’s game at home to Warrington Wolves.
Blair arrived from Australia this week after his visa application was successful and is due to meet his new teammates this morning.
If he passes fitness checks the 27-year-old centre is likely to be included in the 17-man squad on duty against second-placed Warrington at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
With James Clare the latest injury victim to add to 10 first teamers that missed last weekend’s trip to Wigan the Tigers are short of experienced players so do not have the luxury of allowing Blair to have a settling in period before playing.
Head coach Powell explained: “Bringing Cheyse in will be fantastic for us.
“It’s ironic that it’s when we have lost our most experienced centre (Michael Shenton, out for 10 weeks with an ankle injury) that we bring Cheyse in.
“He’s an experienced performer and I’m looking forward to getting him into the club. The challenge for him is to pick up how we play quickly.
“He’s played at one of the best clubs in Australia so he will be a great addition for us.
“We’ll see how he looks when he gets off the plane, that’s the big one. But you only have to look at the amount of players we have watching games at the moment to see he’s going to be close.
“I think he’s going to give everybody a boost. Just being here and he’s a big physical player. He’s got a lot of ability and experience.”
On whether Blair was prepared to be thrown straight in, Powell said: “I told him a story about when I played in Australia years ago I had a quick turnaround as well so I know what it’s like. It’s tough, but it’s doable.
“We haven’t got the luxury to let him watch a couple of games. If he looks okay he’ll probably play some part in the game.”
Powell is not expecting any of the players that missed the Wigan game to be available this week, although there is light at the end of the tunnel with a number of first teamers in contention to return for next week’s Coral Challenge Cup tie at Hull.
He said: “We had 10 out last week and we have one more out as James Clare potentially will not be available this week. He’s got a bit of a knee problem so we need to get him checked out.
“I don’t think we’ll get anybody back who missed last week’s game.
“It’s pretty tough for us at the moment with the number we’ve got injured and most of them are contact injuries in game situations so there’s pretty limited stuff you can do about that.
“The week after we potentially get some players back, but we’ll have to wait and see. Grant Millington, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Matt Cook, Junior Moors and Jordan Rankin could be back so there’s a few players who could come into contention.
“Junior wouldn’t have played last week if he hadn’t been banned from the knock he got at Catalans. It was bad tackle that and certainly he wouldn’t have been available to play.
“I think we’d be pushing players hard if we were going to be put them back out on the field and we don’t really want to do that.