CONFIDENT, but wary is the mood in the Castleford Tigers camp ahead of tonight’s showdown with Salford City Reds at The Willows.
Cas produced a breath-taking second half performance five days ago to hold champions Wigan Warriors to a 22-22 draw – after trailing 22-4 at the break.
But Salford, who were beaten 52-20 when the sides met at Probiz Coliseum in April, were even more impressive, winning 18-16 at Warrington Wolves.
“We have taken confidence from last week,” said Tigers coach Terry Matterson.
“From 18 points down, into the wind and rain, not many teams can do that against Wigan.
“However, we understand that this is a new game and that we need to start again. If we get the same commitment and attitude in defence, the rest will take care of itself, but we are under no illusions.
“It will be a really tough game and they have been building towards that performance (against Warrington) for a few weeks.
“I’m wary of them. We have had some success against them over the last few years, but they have always been close games.
“They have got a lot of people who can hurt you with the ball and they defended really well last week, but we will win if we play well.”
Oliver Holmes has been drafted into Tigers’ squad for tonight in place of forward Martin Aspinwall, who was jailed for four months by a judge at Liverpool Crown Court yesterday after admitting dangerous driving.
A club statement said Tigers “wish to make no further comment on Aspinwall’s situation at this time”.
Tigers will also be without winger Richard Owen, pictured above, who has not recovered from a hamstring injury suffered against Wigan.
His place will be taken by Nick Youngquest, who hasn’t played since the home win over Salford on April 10 due to a knee injury.
“Richie’s injury is not serious,” Matterson said. “But we felt that with a five-day turnaround, we’d be putting him at risk of further injury.
“We didn’t even consider him, but Nick Youngquest is nailed on to replace him. It’s ironic that he hasn’t played since the Salford game.
“He probably could have played for the last couple of weeks, but we didn’t want a recurrence of the injury.
“He has trained well this week and looks comfortable.”
Daryl Clark and Steve Snitch, the unused members of last week’s 19, retain their places in the initial squad.
Reds’ team will be selected from the 17 players who stunned Warrington, plus Ashley Gibson and Jack Spencer.
Meanwhile, Matterson has confirmed an interest in Leeds Rhinos prop Luke Burgess after being told that Craig Huby won’t play again this year.
Huby has been sidelined since April 25 due to a fractured kneecap and Matterson said hopes that he could return before the end of the season have been dashed.
Rhinos are willing to allow Burgess to leave on loan until his contract expires this autumn and Matterson said: “It is an area we are light in.”
Salford City Reds: from Patten, Henry, Gleeson, Ratchford, Broughton, Smith, Holdsworth, Cashmere, Godwin, Boyle, Adamson, Nero, Anderson, Jewitt, Paleaaesina, Sidlow, Neal, Gibson, Spencer.
Castleford Tigers: from Mathers, Dixon, Thompson, Arundel, Youngquest, Chase, Orr, Jackson, Milner, Emmitt, Ferres, Holmes, Hudson, McGoldrick, Fozzard, Widders, Massey, Clark, Snitch.
Referee: Tim Roby (Preston).
Kick-off: Friday, 8pm.