Castleford Tigers outside back James Clare believes the team owes the fans a performance when they take to the Emerald Headingley pitch tomorrow night.
After letting themselves and the supporters down with the display in the Challenge Cup at Hull last week Clare and his teammates are determined to make amends in some way by bouncing back against Leeds Rhinos in Super League.
“We need a massive response because it's upsetting and we owe something back to the fans because they are supporting us in numbers every single week and they've been through the ups and downs," said Clare.
“Probably more the ups in recent years, but we owe something back to them and hopefully we can give them something at the end of the year.
“Cas have been one of the most consistent teams for a number of years now, but it’s a new challenge and if it doesn’t challenge you it’s never going to change you.
“In a way it’s a good thing it’s happening now and not towards the end of the year. Nobody remembers how you start a season or how you are in the middle.
“It’s how you finish one so hopefully we will use this as a bit of a turning point and then kick on for a good back half of the year leading into the play-offs.”
Clare reckons that the return of several players to training in recent weeks will lead to an improvement on the pitch.
He explained: “The coaching staff give us constant belief in everything we do and as soon as we get as many bodies back on the field as we can that creates a competitive environment on the training field as well.
“As much as it’s nice to have your good players on the field we get an opportunity to be training 13 on 13 so that creates competitiveness and we get a flow about what we’re doing.
“It creates a better training environment, equals a better game environment.
“As players are coming back from injuries it is becoming a very competitive squad and very competitive in training so you need to be on top of your game every single week to stay in the team.”
Clare described the Hull defeat as "massively disappointing" and something they need to bounce back rom quickly.
He said: "The Challenge Cup’s something I’ve been involved in in successful times, going to Wembley with Cas Tigers before. There’s that much history in it, it’s something you dream of winning as a kid and you dream of going as a fan.
“It’s just a shame for us to go crashing out so quickly. It’s not like we’ve had a couple of rounds and a couple of wins and then there’s been a disappointment.
“It’s literally straight in, straight out. It’s extremely disappointing, but the position we’ve been in and the injuries we’ve had, it gives you a bit of a rest later on in the season.
“If clouds had silver linings I suppose getting a bit of a break and a few bodies rested gives us chance to focus on the big one.
"We’ve drawn Hull in the past and they’ve gone on to win it so I suppose if you’re going to lose, losing to those who go on and win it is the best thing you can get from a loss.
“They are proven champions in big games and they know how to manage them and I think that was just what they did against us. It's something we could learn from. They managed the game far better and came up with the plays needed to win the game.
“We put ourselves under massive pressure, just our own silly mistakes and things that gifted them position. When you’ve got a kicker like Marc Sneyd and players like Jake Connor that can do what they do, when you are putting yourself in those positions there’s going to be opportunities created and they’re going to score eventually.
“That’s just what they did and then we had that much catching up to do their game management towards the back end of the game, putting the ball into touch or into the corners, made it really difficult.
“We started to chance our arm a bit more, but unfortunately it wasn’t enough. We left it too late.”
Castleford showed spirit once again in fighting on after their shocking start.
“There’s one thing we never want to get beaten for at Castleford Tigers and that’s attitude and effort to win a game," added Clare.
"Throughout the entire game everyone was still there and still talking and we still believed we could do it. We probably just left it a bit too long.”