Buoyant Castleford Tigers are geared up to avoid a post-Leeds blip.
Tigers visit Bradford Bulls this afternoon, just six days after a stirring 14-12 win over Leeds Rhinos.
Cas have lost seven of their previous 10 games straight after a Super League victory against Leeds but coach Ian Millward stressed this year’s new-look side are aware of that and determined to avoid falling into the same trap.
“We put last week’s game to bed on Monday,” Millward insisted. “We started our review on Bradford very early and Danny Orr (Tigers’ assistant-coach) made the comment that we’ve always had a habit if we’ve beaten Leeds of dwelling on it for a week.
“On Tuesday, he said to me ‘all you did yesterday was prepare for Bradford’.
“The Leeds game is gone. It is in the archives now and we’ve got to move forward. The squad are pretty aware of that, too.
“The place is no more positive now than it was a week ago. We were really positive after pre-season and very positive after the Warrington game in round one.
“I wouldn’t say we’ve gone up another level, I’d say that all last week did was reinforce what we are trying to achieve.”
Tigers are without last week’s man-of-the-match Rangi Chase, who is beginning a two-game ban.
Gareth O’Brien will make his debut after being brought in on loan from Warrington Wolves as cover and three-quarter Kirk Dixon is back in the squad following his recovery from a calf muscle tear.
Jake Emmitt, who played on dual-registration for Keighley Cougars last week, is also included in the initial 19, but Keith Mason (hamstring) remains sidelined.
Millward acknowledged: “Rangi is a big loss for us, but it gives Jamie Ellis a chance to step up. He hasn’t played a lot of games, so it will be good for him.”
Dixon had been expected to miss the first six games of the year but has been out for only two.
“There was some scientific treatment done,” said Millward. “He was available last week, but I thought it was too quick a turn-around.
“There was a six-centimetre tear in his calf. What they do is they take the blood out of the injury and spin it and clean it.
“The platelets are what creates the growing mechanism and it brings the platelets more into it, then they inject the blood back into the cut. It certainly has reduced his time out.”
Bulls crushed Wakefield Trinity Wildcats 40-6 in their opening game but were beaten 28-12 at Hull last Sunday.
“They were very good against Wakefield,” Millward reflected. “But if we can cope without Rangi we will be fighting well.”
Bulls coach Francis Cummins has full respect for Tigers following their defeat of his old club.
“They really deserved that win over Leeds,” he observed.
“We always have tough games against Castleford and in a lot of ways I think we are very similar in where we are as clubs at the moment.
“They have a lot of dangerous players and their starting line up – like ours – is very strong.”
Cummins will select from last week’s team, plus James Donaldson and Jobe Murphy, though Michael Platt is an injury doubt.
Bradford Bulls: from Foster, Kear, Blythe, Lulia, Platt, Kearney, Sammut, Scruton, Diskin, Manuokafoa, Olbison, Whitehead, C Walker, L’Estrange, Langley, Sidlow, Addy, Donaldson, Murphy.
Castleford Tigers: from Tansey, Owen, Shenton, Webster, Carney, O’Brien, Ellis, J Walker, Milner, Huby, Gilmour, Hauraki, Holmes, Clark, Millington, Massey, Thompson, Dixon, Emmitt.
Referee: Steve Ganson (St Helens).
kick-off: February 16, 4.45pm.