TOMORROW’S visit of Catalans Dragons is all about how Castleford Tigers bounce back, former Man of Steel Zak Hardaker says.
After four impressive wins, Tigers had their claws clipped by Salford Red Devils six days ago when a late drop goal condemned them to a shock 13-12 defeat.
It was the first time Tigers have been challenged this season and Hardaker reckons they need to put some harsh lessons into practice tomorrow as they bid to keep in touch with Betfred Super League leaders Wigan Warriors.
“We didn’t play very well at all and we just lost by one point,” Hardaker said.
“In the negativity of losing there were quite a lot of positives.
“It was always going to come, a loss – it is just about bouncing back now.
“We have been on a high the last few weeks and it’s not a bad thing that we’ve been brought back to earth.
“We have been staying grounded, but we’ve reviewed Sunday’s game and looked at where we went wrong.
“It’s just a matter of turning it around this week. We are really positive and we want to bounce back with a win.
“We’ve got Catalans at home and we’re looking forward to that.”
Dealing with a team who disrupt their attacking style and coping with the conditions were the biggest two lessons from last week, according to Tigers’ full-back.
“We were fully aware that someone was going to come at us,” he said.
“It took five rounds, it took Salford to come and do that, but we didn’t play very well in the conditions and that’s the main thing to come out of it.
“Salford played better than us and deserved the win. Credit to them and it’s a learning curve for us.
“They put it on us and we didn’t play to the conditions.
“I think that (defeat) happening will probably be good for us.”
Catalans have not won in their last three games after opening the season with back-to-back victories.
But they will have studied Salford’s successful game plan and Hardaker predicted: “They’ll be a really tough challenge.
“They’ve lost a few guys through injury, but they only just lost to St Helens last weekend and they’re going to come over with a good side.
“They have a really strong pack and Paul Aiton is massive for them.
“I loved playing with him at Leeds and I was gutted when he went.
“He is a massive threat for them, their forwards go well up the middle and Luke Walsh and Richie Myler are playing really well off the back of that.
“They’ve got threats all round the park.”
Australian winger Joel Monaghan, who has been restricted to just one appearance this season, is set to deputise for the injured Greg Minikin.
Stand-off Rangi Chase is also back in the 19-man squad this week after sitting out the last two matches following an internal investigation into an off-field incident.
Jake Webster does make the 19-man Tigers squad after suffering a head knock against Salford last week.
Catalans Dragons are still without former Australia star Greg Bird and ex-Huddersfield Giants winger Jodie Broughton.