Castleford Tigers coach Ian Millward admits that it will be a major blow if Sunday’s visit of Featherstone Rovers falls victim to the big freeze.
A pitch inspection is planned for Sunday morning, but with the opening round of Super League now just 15 days away, Millward stressed: “We need to play.”
The game will be resheduled for Wednesday if the Wish Communications Stadium pitch fails tomorrow’s 9am inspection.
Tigers were beaten 26-6 at Hull in their opening pre-season match last Sunday and Millward said: “We need another game before the season starts.
“There’s some areas we need to continue to work on. It is about getting the package – our systems and actions – consistent for 80 minutes.”
Lee Gilmour is ready to make his first Tigers appearance, leaving only recruits Jordan Tansey and Keith Mason on the sidelines, alongside Steve Nash.
“We had a really good video session during the week,” Millward reported.
“The players got to see the areas they need to improve.
“Under fatigue last week we were getting back to some old ways and it’s a case of getting out of that habit.”
Rovers lost 38-10 at Wakefield Trinity Wildcats in their second trial game last week, after trailing 28-0 at the break.
Rovers and Tigers haven’t met since Cas were humbled 23-16 at Big Fellas Stadium in last year’s Challenge Cup third round and Millward knows his side face a battle.
“They will give us a good test,” he predicted. “The ground’s going to be heavy and they are a very good team.
“That’s why we picked them, we were looking for a team that will challenge us and I expect them to do that.”
As for gaining revenge for last year, Millward added: “It’s a different team now. My focus and the players’ focus is all about what we do this week, so we can move forward.
“What happened last year is history.”
If the game goes ahead, Rovers coach Daryl Powell will demand an improvement on the performance against Wildcats six days ago.
“Starting the game with more confidence is crucial for us,” he said.
“We have got some issues in the outside-backs – a lot of our injuries are there and that’s creating some difficulties – but defensively there’s a few things we need to sort out.
“We’ve worked hard on those during the week and our execution with the ball can improve, but ultimately improving our attitude at the start of the game and being competitive for a longer period is crucial to us.”
Powell added: “We are building relationships between players and certain players are finding out about each other.
“We have to be realistic, as well as expecting really high standards.”
Matt James is available for Rovers tomorrow after injury, but Ben Hellewell (collarbone) has joined Tom Hodson (hamstring), Tommy Saxton (back), Michael Haley (broken foot), Sam Smeaton (knee) and Tim Spears (shoulder) on the casualty list.
Castleford Tigers from: Owen, Carney, Shenton, Webster, Dixon, Chase, J Ellis, Walker, Clark, Huby, Gilmour, Hauraki, Millington, Emmitt, Milner, Massey, O Holmes, Thompson, Fleming, Clare.
Featherstone Rovers: Hardman, Browne, Worthington, Hepworth, Johnson, Briggs, Finn, England, Kaye, Crossley, Dale, Lockwood, Bryan. Subs: Bostock, Ormanroyd, Mackay, Kain, Scott, James, A Ellis, D Holmes.
Referee: James Child (Batley).
Kick-off: January 21, 2pm.