THIS WEEK’S visit to champions Wigan Warriors is a “statement game” for Castleford Tigers, coach Daryl Powell says.
Tigers are top of the table with six wins from seven fixtures so far, but Powell reckons facing Wigan on their own turf is the ultimate challenge.
“They’re the current champions and everybody wants to play against the best teams and prove yourselves,” Powell said of Thursday’s showdown.
“It’s a big challenge for us – a statement game, clearly. They are a great side and we need to play well to beat them.”
Wigan won their first three matches in Betfred Super League – as well as lifting the World Club Challenge title with a victory over Cronulla Sharks – but followed that run with a draw and successive defeats.
“They have slipped from top to fifth in the table, but Powell is reading nothing into their recent results.
“The games they’ve played, even with the injuries they’ve had, have been exceptionally tight,” he pointed out.
“They are a difficult side to beat.
“They always have been, always will be.
“It’s going to be a tough game for us; going away to Wigan is always the big test.
“We’ve found it really difficult over the last few years so it’s going to be a difficult challenge for us.
“We just need our best performance – we need to bring out everything we’ve got and be really solid defensively.
“They’ve got some key threats and good players across the field. The pack’s pretty strong and they’ve got two outstanding half-backs, but George Williams is one of the outstanding threats in our competition.
“Our right edge will have to be very mindful of what he’s going to throw at them.”
Wigan will obviously look to disrupt Tigers’ lethal attack, which has scored 281 points in just seven games, but Powell reckons being able to handle that is key to Cas’ hopes.
“Teams do different things on you, but the thing is not to get rattled by it,” he stressed. “You should be able to find a way out of every situation you’re faced with if you stay calm. That’s obviously what we didn’t do at Salford [where Tigers suffered their only defeat so far] and hopefully the lesson we’ve learned.”
Meanwhile, Powell has played down his rivalry with Wigan boss Shaun Wane. The Cas coach has admitted in the past the two do not see eye to eye, but he insisted: “It’s just competitive – he’s competitive, I’m competitive. We’ve had some great battles over my time at Cas, we’re both pretty proud of the clubs we represent and that’s it. That’s all it is.”