JOHN Kear expects his Wakefield Trinity Wildcats side to face a “desperate” Castleford Tigers team in the Carnegie Challenge Cup fifth round tomorrow.
Visitors Castleford haven’t won in their last five games against top-flight opposition, a run which includes a 28-24 defeat by Wakefield a month ago.
Tigers were crushed 62-0 at Warrington Wolves last Friday and Kear predicted: “They will be desperate, no doubt about that.
“They will be really focused, intense and ready for a challenge. They know they didn’t perform to their ability last week and they’ll be looking to rectify that.
“If this game had been played prior to Easter, they would have been red hot favourites. But we have played pretty well since Easter and Cas’ form has dipped.
“When you are in a performance slump you are always one game away from getting out if it. I just hope it isn’t this game when they do come out of it.”
Kear is “excited” by the prospect of tomorrow’s tie.
He said: “I love the Challenge Cup, I love local derbies and I have an affinity with Castleford.
“There’s a big prize at the end of it and the players are very excited, there has been a real buzz and real energy about them in training and they are ready to play.”
Cas coach Terry Matterson insisted his team aren’t dwelling on last weekend’s defeat.
“This is a completely different competition,” he said.
“We dealt with last week fairly quickly and we have moved on.”
He added: “This game has come around at the right time for us. We couldn’t ask for a better match-up.
“It’s a derby, in the Challenge Cup, on the BBC.
“It is great we have got something to get our teeth into and the stakes are massive.”
Wildcats will be without centre Chris Dean, who is facing up to three weeks on the sidelines due to a wrist injury.
Jeremy Smith drops out from the team beaten at Crusaders last week, along with the Cup-tied Liam Higgins.
Josh Veivers and Michael Korkidas – who did not feature last week – retain their places in the initial 19 and James Davey and Greg Johnson have been drafted in.
Wildcats’ new signing from Canterbury Bulldogs, Jarrad Hickey, is due to arrive from Australia this weekend.
Added to the Tigers side on duty last week are fit-again duo Willie Isa and Nick Youngquest, plus Steve Snitch, Jordan Thompson and Daryl Clark.
Paul Jackson is sidelined by the back injury he suffered in the warm-up at Warrington and Martin Aspinwall (calf) has joined him on the casualty list. Nathan Massey and Ryan McGoldrick are left out.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats: from Blaymire, Griffin, Henderson, Murphy, Morton, Hyde, Lee, P Johnson, Rinaldi, Amor, Morrison, Mariano, Howarth, King, Korkidas, Veivers, Davey, Wildie, G Johnson.
Castleford Tigers: from Mathers, Dixon, Isa, Arundel, Owen, Chase, Orr, Emmitt, Hudson, Fozzard, Ferres, Jones, Widders, Milner, Holmes, Snitch, Youngquest, Thompson, Clark.
Referee: Richard Silverwood (Mirfield).
Kick-off: Saturday, 2.30pm.