CASTLEFORD TIGERS players will have a final chance to force their way into the side for next week’s season-opener when they visit Dewsbury Rams tonight (7.30pm).
Tigers begin their First Utility Super League campaign away to Bradford Bulls a week tomorrow.
And coach Daryl Powell confirmed: “There’s still some places up for grabs.
“Obviously I am pretty certain on a number of players in the starting team for our first game.
“We will be putting a strong team out (tonight) and I am looking forward to seeing people like Nathan Massey and Jamie Ellis get a game.
“They haven’t played yet and are coming back from injury. Adam Milner probably needs a bit more game time, so it is a bit of a mix, but I think it will be a good game for us.”
Youngsters Jordan Howden, Brad Day, Brad Foster, Will Maher, Brandon Westerman and Tom Holmes are all included in what is predominantly a first-team squad.
Powell coached against Rams at Tetley’s Stadium during his spell in charge of Featherstone Rovers and admitted tonight’s clash will present a challenge to his side.
“It is a tight pitch,” he said. “The conditions might be difficult, but it is a mentality thing.
“It is about making sure your mentality is right and you are tough and aggressive.
“I don’t see any reason why, when people are fighting for places, we aren’t going to go there and put in the right kind of effort.
“That is something we are looking for, consistency in everything we do. We are playing a lot of 13 on 13 in training at the minute.
“It is very important because the team I put out there is the starting team and the others are competing against them.
“There’s a bit of a battle, so that has really helped us in our preparation.”
Tonight’s showdown is Rams’ last pre-season game before their tough Kingstone Press Championship opener at home to Featherstone Rovers in eight days’ time.
Rams lost to Batley Bulldogs on Boxing Day, but recorded wins over Keighley Cougars and Bradford Bulls before a planned trial game against Doncaster last week was called off due to a waterlogged pitch.
Facing Championship rivals would have given Rams an indication of how well they are doing, but Morrison said tonight will be even better preparation for his team.
“They will have a strong side out and they put in a great performance against Bradford last week,” Morrison said.
“It will be tough, but that’s what we wanted – we wanted a tough friendly to get us ready for the start of the season.
“Featherstone had a great win over Hull last week and they will be coming with all guns blazing, so we need to be well prepared.”
Morrison added: “We will have a strong side out, but we’ll also be looking at a couple of younger players, off the bench. It will be good for them to play against a strong team, to get a look at them for later on.”
Dewsbury Rams from: Sheriff, Morton, Pryce, Grady, Scott, Hemingway, Thackeray, Nash, Godwin, Hepworth, Spicer, Hale, Brown, Wright, Gallagher, Haggerty, Hyde, Grayston, Maranka.
Castleford Tigers from: Tansey, Milner, Massey, Mariano, Ellis, Gibson, Channing, Owen, Fleming, Martin, Reynolds, Seymour, Howden, Day, Foster, Maher, T Holmes, Westerman.
Referee: Chris Leatherbarrow (St Helens).
Kick-off: Tonight, 7.30pm.