FIT-AGAIN Aussie Ryan McGoldrick beliveves the Carnegie Challenge Cup has come at just the right time for Castleford Tigers.
Cas will get a break from their faltering Engage Super League campaign when they visit Co-op Championship One side Rochdale Hornets on Sunday.
The record 48-6 home defeat by Leeds Rhinos four days ago extended Tigers’ run of games without a win to four and McGoldrick reckons Sunday will be an ideal opportunity to regroup.
“I don’t think it is a crisis,” McGoldrick said. “If we had gone four without a win at a normal time in the season, week to week, you would start to look at yourself, but the boys have played three games in one week.
“I don’t think there’s any sign of panic, I think the platform we have built saves us a little bit.
“This is a hiccup, but having the Challenge Cup this weekend helps us. It gives us the chance to focus on a new competition and build some momentum going into another tough game at Warrington.”
Leeds inflicted Tigers’ first heavy defeat of the year, but McGoldrick felt the result could have been different if some decisions had gone their way in the first half.
Richard Owen had two touchdowns disallowed by referee Richard Silverwood, who ruled that passes from Rangi Chase were forward. In addition, the referee failed to spot a forward pass in the build-up to Leeds’ second try.
“We had three chances in the first half,” McGoldrick said. “If we had scored them, we would have gone in leading at half-time.
“Take off their try for a forward pass and it might have been a different story. If ours were forward, that definitely was.
“You are going to get those – it is just disappointing we didn’t get one of the calls in the first half.
“I think if we get one of those, it changes the whole game. The scoreline went away from us late on and that was the most disappointing thing.
“But if it hadn’t been on the back of the Easter weekend I don’t think that would have happened. You could tell at the end that the boys looked tired.”
McGoldrick came off the bench against Leeds to make his first appearance of the season. He is confident he is now fully over the knee problem – suffered last year – which caused him to miss Tigers’ opening 11 league games.
He said: “It is really good to be back, though obviously it would have been better under different circumstances.
“It was a disappointing result, but on a personal note I was pretty happy. I am happy that my knee came through really good, I didn’t feel it during the game and I am happy to be walking around and not limping like I was last year.”
Injuries are starting to affect Tigers, who were without Willie Isa, Nick Youngquest, Ryan Hudson, Craig Huby, Jonathan Walker, Nick Fozzard and Dean Widders for last Friday’s game.
Huby will be out for several months after being hurt in the Easter Monday defeat at St Helens, but coach Terry Matterson expects to have Fozzard and Hudson available for selection this weekend.
“Fozz has a knee problem, it is nothing too serious, but it blew up after his last game,” said Matterson. “He will be fine.
“Razza (Hudson) has a bit of a shoulder injury, which he did earlier in the season. That’s nothing serious – all the hookers got two games over Easter and he should be available for Sunday.”
Matterson had hoped to have Isa back from an ankle problem for the trip to Warrington on May 13, but he said: “We are not sure now.
“His recovery is pretty slow. He could be right for Warrington, but it is not nailed on.”
The coach added: “Youngquest definitely won’t be right for Warrington, but he might be available for the league game after that, which is Harlequins at home.”
Walker underwent knee surgery earlier in the season and Matterson said: “We haven’t got a date for him – it will be another six weeks at least.”