AFTER A week of licking their wounds, Castleford Tigers will get an opportunity to put their Wembley disappointment behind them when they take on Bradford Bulls at MAH Jungle tomorrow.
It is Tigers’ first game since their Tetley’s Challenge Cup final loss to Leeds Rhinos and with the top six positions in First Utility Super League still to be decided, coach Daryl Powell admits the time for feeling sorry for themselves is over.
Tigers are still battling for a top-four finish and the team boss reckons how they respond to last week’s setback will show what they are really made of.
“The healing has got to start pretty quickly,” stressed Powell, who admitted his team failed to do themselves justice on the big occasion.
“I don’t think we will get over it until we put a performance in on the field.
“We have got to use the frustration and disappointment from last week as a catalyst and we are looking forward to playing again.
“We have got to respond as a group and I think the players are very determined. I think there will be a fair bit of steel about us, but it’s what we do on Sunday that’s important.
“We are not going to know until the game, but I am pretty confident we will rock up with a great attitude.”
Bradford have beaten Wigan Warriors and Leeds Rhinos since relegation to the Kingstone Press Championship was confirmed and Powell admitted his side could be in for a long afternoon if they aren’t on the ball from the start.
“It’s a big game,” he said. “We want to finish the season strongly and do well in the play-offs. There’s only one thing on offer for us now, which is the league.
“We’ve been working through the last nine weeks and fighting on two fronts, Super League and the Challenge Cup.
“We have done it pretty well, but now there’s only one competition to go for and we are in a pretty good spot.
“We have got to cement ourselves as a group, the way we play and our attitude and look to kick on from Sunday.”
Tigers are without winger Justin Carney, who suffered an ankle injury in the Wembley defeat.
Prop Craig Huby, who played in the final just two weeks after suffering a dislocated elbow, also misses out.
James Clare will replace Carney and Garreth Carvell is in line to take over from Huby, while Adam Milner and Michael Channing have also been drafted into Tigers’ initial 19.
Jamal Fakir, Luke George and Nathan Conroy are all in-line to make their return for Bradford, but Bulls skipper Matt Diskin and winger/full-back Elliot Kear have been ruled out through injury and Jamie Foster also misses tomorrow’s game.
Bulls’ squad also includes half-back Luke Gale, who will join Tigers next season and he said he “can’t wait” to show Cas fans what he is capable of.
“It will be a weird feeling, but I’ve always loved playing at the Jungle,” said the former Leeds Rhinos academy and London Broncos scrum-half.
“It’s a hostile environment and the crowd is on your back, but I prefer that.
“They get behind the Cas lads, really pack the stadium out and create a fantastic atmosphere.
“I definitely want to show them what I’m capable of and the lads have spoken about going unbeaten in these last few games.
“We’ve beaten Wigan, Leeds and Hull, so why can’t we beat Cas, Widnes and London in our last three games?
“They will be licking their wounds from last week and I think they will be there for the taking to be honest.
“We’ve trained well this week and we want the two points. It can go two ways – they can be a bit flat or they can get back on the horse.
“Jimmy (coach James Lowes) doesn’t focus too much on the opposition because we know that if we get our game right then we’ll have a very good chance of winning.”
Castleford Tigers from: Dorn, Dixon, Webster, Shenton, Clare, Sneyd, Finn, Lynch, Clark, Carvell, Holmes, Hauraki, Massey, Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis, Jewitt, Milner, Channing.
Bradford Bulls from: Addy, Arundel, Baldwinson, Blythe, Conroy, Donaldson, Fakir, Ferguson, Gale, Gaskell, George, Henry, Kearney, Manuokafoa, O’Brien, Olbison, Pitts, Sidlow, Williams.
Referee: George Stokes (Wigan).
Kick-off: Tomorrow. 3.30pm.