Castleford Tigers: Gale to put friendship on hold for 80 minutes

Luke Gale

Luke Gale

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TOMORROW’S DERBY against Leeds Rhinos is all about bouncing back, says Castleford Tigers’ England half-back Luke Gale.

Tigers were left reeling last week when they crashed to a 56-12 defeat at Warrington Wolves. That was Tigers’ third successive loss and has added more spice to the biggest date on Tigers’ fixture calendar.

“It is massive,” Gale said of tomorrow’s showdown between the teams eighth and ninth in First Utility Super League. “It will be really good to bounce back against our big local rivals and hopefully that’s what we will do.

“It was disappointing last week. The boys have been in this week and it’s not been a happy place, but it is a really good chance to bounce back.”

Gale is confident Tigers’ recent run is a blip, rather than anything more serious. He stressed: “You can’t throw the towel in after one poor performance. We still believe we are good enough.

“All teams have blips. The best teams bounce back from them so that’s what we’ll be looking to do.”

The game is extra special for Gale who was a star in Rhinos’ academy system, but had to move on to gain first team experience.

He said: “Everyone looks forward to it. Obviously I played for Leeds, I grew up in Leeds and I’m a Leeds lad, but everyone gets up for the Leeds game and we’ve done well in the past.

“I am good mates with a few of the Leeds boys, but we’ll be rivals on Thursday and I’ll put that to one side.

“I am good friends with Danny McGuire and we go for a coffee every now and again, so it’d be good to get one over him. I think he’s going to be back and he’ll give them some guidance.”

Rhinos won at the Jungle last Easter, but Tigers grabbed the upper hand with two victories at Headingley later in the season.

“We’ve got a good record against them, we’ve produced some top-quality games against them and we’re looking to do that on Thursday,” Gale pledged. “We normally play better away against them, so it would be good to beat them down here.”

Both teams have won just twice this season, though Tigers’ draw at Hull KR in round one has given them a one-point advantage.

“I think they are struggling to be honest,” Gale said of Rhinos’ form. “They are missing some key personnel, a bit like ourselves and it has affected them.

“They will probably take a bit of confidence from last week, beating St Helens, but I think if we apply our game we’ve got some areas we can trouble them in and I think we’ll go well.”

Tigers could welcome back stand-off Ben Roberts tomorrow, but if he remains sidelined Gale reckons Ryan Hampshire is capable of filling the gap.

“He is a good young player,” Gale said of the Normanton Knights product, who is on a season-long loan from Wigan. “The side has been struggling so he probably hasn’t shown in the best light, but he’s a really good player and we’ve been working hard in training this week and hopefully we can pull the right strings on Thursday.”