THINGS HAVE not gone Castleford Tigers’ way so far this year, but coach Daryl Powell believes they are still capable of “something special”.
Tigers go into today’s BBC-televised Ladbrokes Challenge Cup sixth-round tie against visitors Salford Red Devils on a run of three straight defeats, the last two at home.
They have slipped to eighth in First Utility Super League, but Powell remains upbeat about what they can achieve.
“We haven’t been far away,” insisted the Tigers boss. “We know when we are tuned in and we’ve got a full complement of players we can be something special.
“At the minute we are having to play a bit differently and the boys are doing a great job. It isn’t all quite going our way, but we have got a slightly different focus this week and a great opportunity against a team who are playing pretty well.
“We know we need to be good. It is knockout football, so we need to win.”
Powell reckons if Tigers get their game together, the result will take care of itself.
He said: “It is just about us playing well. When we play well we are in a good place.
“We haven’t quite done that as much as we’d have wanted to this season, but there’s plenty to go at.
“Obviously the Challenge Cup is a great competition for this club; a couple of years ago we were in the final and we’d like to do something similar if we can.
“This is the starting point, we are at home and it is an important game for us.”
Powell feels Tigers “haven’t hit our groove yet”. He added: “We are still battling to play consistently well.
“Some of that’s due to personnel and injuries.
“Sometimes it’s hard to pick what the reasons are, but I think the changes in personnel consistently have been the biggest factor.”
Today’s victors will be through to the quarter-finals and a Cup run could help get Tigers’ season on track.
“Once you get to the latter stages it creates a great sense of excitement,” Powell said.
“It certainly did a couple of years ago with us. We are going to try and get ourselves to the latter stages if we can, but you can only take it one game at a time and Salford have looked pretty good this year.
“They have got some consistency in their team selection and they will be a threat for us.”
Luke Dorn, Jake Webster, Junior Moors and Larne Patrick could all return from injury for Tigers and Ryan Boyle is also in contention. Andy Lynch is facing up to 12 weeks on the sidelines after suffering a broken leg against St Helens last week and Will Maher and Conor Fitzsimons also drop out.
Samoan international Daniel Vidot, a former Canberra, St George and Brisbane winger, has been named in Salford’s initial 19 for the first time.
Castleford Tigers: from Boyle, Cook, Crooks, Dorn, Gale, Hampshire, Hitchcox, Jewitt, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Moors, Monaghan, Patrick, Springer, Solomona, Webster.
Salford Red Devils: from Carney, Dobson, Evalds, Flanagan, G Griffin, Hauraki, Jones, Joseph, Kopczak, Krasniqi, Lannon, Lui, Murdoch-Masilla, O’Brien, Sa’u, Vidot, J Walne, A Walne, Wilkinson.
Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).
Kick-off: Today, 2.30pm.