CASTLEFORD TIGERS coach Daryl Powell insists Wembley doesn’t have to be a distraction from his team’s First Utility Super League title challenge.
Tigers will be without seven of the players involved in last Sunday’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup semi-final win over Widnes Vikings when they visit Warrington Wolves tonight.
Craig Huby is sidelined due to the dislocated elbow he suffered last week and Powell has opted to rest Luke Dorn, Kirk Dixon, Jake Webster, Michael Shenton, Marc Sneyd and Daryl Clark ahead of next Saturday’s showpiece.
Tigers are fourth in the table, two points and one place clear of Warrington, who were beaten by Leeds Rhinos in the first Cup semi-final six days ago.
That makes tonight’s game an important one in its own right and Powell stressed: “We want to get a result, that’s the plan.
“It would be a tough game regardless of who we had in, but we are talking about the depth of our squad and players challenging, not just for next week, but for the whole of the rest of the competition.
“We have got big games every week now and they are all important to us. We want to win the game.
“We believe we’ve got a winning mentality, regardless of who takes the field and this is a pretty strong challenge of it.”
Powell said he has a strong idea of what his Cup final team will be, but he admitted: “You never know what’s going to happen leading up to the game.
“I am pretty close, but there are things that could swing me one way or the other.
“Ultimately, I know the Wembley game is a massive one, but it is about more than that for me,” he said.
“It is about players being tuned in for the rest of the season.
“Wherever and whenever they are needed to do a job for the club and the team, they have to be ready to do it. I have made that point to them.”
Powell said he has not lost sleep fretting over the possiblity of injuries from tonight’s Super League game.
“We’ve just got to play the game, I don’t think we can concern ourselves with that,” he said.
“It is just about playing the game and I am not worried about picking up injuries.
“I think if you go out with that mindset – as a coach or a player it turns out the other way and ends up being worse.
“We have just got to go and play and perform, that’s the way it is.”
Craig Millington (knee) is set to miss the Wembley final, but Powell said Huby has not yet been ruled out and will be assessed next week.
The players called up into Tigers’ squad for tonight are Jordan Tansey, Ashley Gibson, Michael Channing, Adam Milner, Ben Reynolds, Brad Day, Will Maher, Jordan Howden and Weller Hauraki, who has completed a two-game ban.
In contrast to Tigers, Warrington could be unchanged from their semi-final loss to Leeds.
Coach Tony Smith will select from the 17 on duty six days ago, plus James Laithwaite and Gareth O’Brien.
Warrington Wolves: from Russell, J Monaghan, Atkins, Bridge, Evans, Ratchford, Myler, Hill, M Monaghan, England, Waterhouse, Westwood, Harrison, Asotasi, Wood, Grix, Higham, Laithwaite, O’Brien.
Castleford Tigers: from Tansey, Lynch, Milner, Hauraki, Massey, Holmes, Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis, Gibson, Channing, Clare, Finn, Reynolds, Day, Jewitt, Carvell, Maher, Howden.
Referee: James Child (Batley).
Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm.