Cas forward Dan Fleming is aiming for a big finish to the season to bolster his World Cup ambitions. Peter Smith reports.
WORLD CUP hopeful Dan Fleming has pledged to take his opportunity if Castleford Tigers’ injury problems don’t clear-up.
Fleming turned in an impressive effort off the bench in Tigers’ 48-32 defeat at Huddersfield Giants two days ago, a game which saw Cas lose three forwards to injury.
Prop Jon Walker (knee) and his replacement Ben Davies (back) were hurt inside the opening quarter and back-rower Oliver Holmes (knee) had to be helped off mid-way through the second half.
Keith Mason – who wasn’t selected – and Ryan Boyle (suspended) will be available for the home clash with Warrington Wolves on August 4.
But Fleming is hoping he did enough to convince coach Daryl Powell he deserves to keep his place in the match day 17.
“I just want to keep playing,” said the Welsh international, who is also dual-registered with Kingstone Press Championship outfit Batley Bulldogs.
“Hopefully I can stay in the side until the end of the season.
“We have got a few injuries. I don’t know how bad they are, but hopefully I can keep my place.”
Fleming reckons the dual-registration arrangement – which means he has been playing first-team rugby most weeks – has helped him.
He added: “I still train full-time with Cas and I’m doing all the structures.
“Daryl and John (Kear, Batley’s coach) communicate, so they know how I am playing.
“At Batley I have been made really welcome, so I enjoy playing for both.
“I think dual-reg’ is a really good thing. I am playing in the next-best thing to Super League, which is the Championship and there’s a lot of good players at that level.
“You are playing against men every week, not against under-20s.
“You get bashed about a lot and it makes it easier to step up.”
Continuing in Super League would boost Fleming’s chances of featuring in the World Cup, which begins in less than 100 days’ time.
The Cas man qualifies for Wales through a grandparent and he said: “I want to get some good game time, get some momentum and hopefully secure a spot for the World Cup.
“I think about it every day, to be honest.
“All I want to do is keep playing, stay in and play all the way through.
“I haven’t spoken to Iestyn (Harris, Wales’ coach) but it’ll be better for me if I’m playing in Super League.
“The more Super League I can play the better and hopefully I can get selected for the (Wales’) friendly against New Zealand.
“It would mean everything to play in the World Cup, there’s no bigger honour than playing for your country.
“Playing in the World Cup would be the highlight of my career, no doubt.”
From a team point of view, Tigers have almost two weeks to dwell on the loss at Huddersfield, which saw them hit back strongly in the second half after trailing 36-4 at the break.
“It was disappointing,” Fleming reflected.
“I thought we let them get into it too quickly.
“We didn’t set a platform and in the second half we gave ourselves too much to do.
“They are a very good team.
“You don’t get to be top of the table without being a good team, but we need to get some consistency.
“Sometimes we have a good first half and sometimes we have a good second half.
“We just need to do it for the full 80 minutes.”
That has been a recurring theme for Tigers.
And Fleming added: “We need to sit down and review Sunday’s game and take it from there.
“But there’s loads to build on.
“We know we can score points with the ball, we just need to keep hold of it.
“We proved what we can do in the second half on Sunday.
“And hopefully when we play Warrington we can nail an 80-minutes performance.”
Warrington Wolves face Hull in a Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final on Sunday, but Tigers don’t have a game this weekend.
Fleming said: “Warrington have got a big game coming up, but they won’t go lightly on us.
“They aren’t where they are in the table for no reason.
“But I think the break will do us good.
“We have had some tough games and it’ll be good to have a weekend off and then get into it again against Warrington.”
Meanwhile, Castleford Tigers Supporters’ Club will hold a ‘meet the directors’ evening in the Wish Communications Suite, at Wheldon Road, on Tuesday, August 13 (7.45pm).
Newly-appointed directors Ian Fulton, Dion Lowe, Steve Vause, John Duff, Mark Grattan and Terry Cheesebrough are all due to attend and will answer questions from fans.
It is a members only event, with a £1 admission, but membership will be available on the night.