FRINGE MEN could still play their way into Castleford Tigers’ Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final line-up, coach Daryl Powell says.
Tigers have one more fixture – at home to London Broncos tomorrow – before the long-awaited Cup clash with Widnes Vikings at Leigh in eight days’ time.
Powell’s plans for the tie have been dealt a double blow with the loss of Grant Millington due to a knee injury and fellow back-rower Weller Hauraki, though suspension.
The team boss admitted that dual setback has “thrown a spanner in the works” and he confirmed: “There’s still a couple of spots up for selection.
“There’s a few players who are quite close and I will make those decisions after the weekend.
“I haven’t fully got it in my mind. Obviously I know the large majority of it, but there are still one or two decisions to be made.”
Tomorrow’s game against First Utility Super League’s bottom club is important for two reasons, according to Powell.
He wants to see his side go into the semi-final with a good display under their belt and they also need to win well to maintain their push for a top-four position on the final league table.
Broncos have yet to win this year and are already doomed to relegation, but Powell is looking for a big improvement on what his team showed for most of last week’s 18-18 draw at Hull.
Tigers trailed 18-4 midway through the final quarter and Powell stated: “It’s about performance for us and how we play.
“There’s loads of good signs in what we are doing at the moment. I don’t think we were fantastic last week, but we certainly were for the last 13 minutes.
“I don’t think there’s many teams could have done what we did and that was an outstanding effort. I think we are full of confidence and we need to play well in this game and not look too far ahead. We need to win to maintain our league position and it’s an important game for us.”
Powell insisted Tigers are not taking two points for granted, depsite London’s run of 22 straight defeats.
“We haven’t got too many games left and they are all equally important for individual players and for the collective group to maintain what we are doing,” he said. “They are all crucial games and I can’t see any point at this stage of the season – when we have worked so hard – to start sitting back and allowing ourselves to get distracted.
“We have got to focus on every game and perform as well as we can. There’s a few teams that have responded recently - Wakefield and Bradford have done it and London, I would say, will see this as an opportunity.
“They will see there is a potential for us to be distracted and it is absolutely crucial we don’t allow that to happen.”
Powell has opted to rest Daryl Clark and Andy Lynch for tomorrow’s game.
Youngster Brad Day could get a call-up and Jake Webster, Justin Carney, Craig Huby, Jamie Ellis and Lee Jewitt are all in contention after not featuring last week.
London welcome back Nesias Mataitonga after injury and Erjon Dollapi and Joe Keyes are also in line for a call-up, with James Woodburn-Hall dropping out from the team thrashed 62-10 by Hull KR last week.
Castleford Tigers: from Dorn, Dixon, Gibson, Shenton, Carney, Sneyd, Finn, Huby, Milner, Carvell, Mariano, Holmes, Massey, Wheeldon, Webster, Ellis, Jewitt, Clare, Day.
London Broncos: from Mataitonga, Atkins, Minns, Farrar, Solomona, Thomas, Wicks, Slyney, Moore, Krasniqi, McMeeken, Vea, Cook, Drinkwater, Griffin, Lovell, Wallace, Dollapi, Keyes.
Referee: Joe Cobb (Leigh).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3.30pm