TONIGHT’S DERBY at Leeds Rhinos is bigger than the average game for Castleford Tigers half-back Luke Gale.
He is from Leeds, began his career in their academy and was coached during a spell at Harlequins by current Rhinos boss Brian McDermott.
All that adds up to a match Gale is particularly keen to perform well in – and with Tigers knowing a win would lift them into First Utility Super League’s top-four and possibly knock Leeds off pole position, the scene is set for a “cracker”.
Gale said: “It’s always good to go to Headingley. Cas-Leeds games are ones to look forward to and we’ve come off the back of a couple of good wins, so we’re really looking forward to it.”
On a personal level, Gale is keen to impress in front of the South Stand and his former coach.
He said: “Every game is special, but when you play Leeds – especially at Headingley with a big crowd – it is a great fixture.
“It’s a great one no matter whether it’s home or away and it’s one I always look forward to. Hopefully it brings out the best in me.
“I have had some good games against them.
“I didn’t quite play the way I wanted to last time, but I’m looking for a good performance personally and a good collective performance.”
Gale added: “I can remember being 10 years old, sitting on the wall in the South Stand, cheering on the likes of McGuire and I was lucky enough to train with the likes of Sinfield and people like that when I was there.
“I was a Leeds fan; not now, it turns when you go away from them, but it’s always good playing against them. I’ve got a lot of friends there, so it’s always a good fixture.”
Rhinos were convincing 26-12 victors at the Jungle on Good Friday and Gale admitted Tigers are keen to prove they are a better side than they showed that afternoon.
“Things didn’t quite come off for us and I thought Leeds were outstanding,” he recalled. “I think Brian Mac said it was probably their best game. They haven’t been playing at their best these last few weeks, but they are a great side and they play some good rugby. We will be looking to go over to Headingley and turn the tables.”
Tigers are in better form now than they were two months ago, according to Gale.
“We are looking for some consistency and I think we’ve got that,” he said. “In the last two games we’ve let the opposition back into it a little bit and I don’t think the scoreline has reflected the game.
“At Hull KR on Friday we had them, but they scored four tries from kicks. We just need to be a bit better in those areas, but we’re really looking forward to Leeds and hopefully we can go over there and put a good performance in.”
With Rhinos having played at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats – where they won 58-26 – on Sunday, Tigers have had two extra days’ rest from their 30-22 victory. Gale said: “The more days the better. We had a tough game on Friday, we’ve had chance to recover and we’ll be ready for (tonight)]. We’re not focusing on what Leeds do. We know they’re an outstanding side, but if we get our things right and we complete well and we bring plenty of enthusiasm, I’m sure the fans will get behind us and we’ll put in a good performance.”