Hull FC v Castleford Tigers – Coach Daryl Powell expects tough test
CASTLEFORD TIGERS will be wary of “self-styled bad boy” Jake Connor away to Hull Thursday night.
Half-back Connor will return for Hull after missing their derby defeat last week because of suspension and Tigers coach Daryl Powell has pinpointed him as a major threat.
“He’s a tricky player, a self-styled bad boy – he likes to get under people’s skin so that’s always interesting,” Powell said of the England star.
“He is a good player, a real quality player and they’ve got good players across the field. They look fit and sharp and there’s a lot of ball movement in them at the moment.
“Connor’s only going to help that and he’s going to put a lot of pressure on us so our defensive resolve is going to be really tested.”
Of Connor’s ability to wind up opposing players, Powell insisted: “I don’t think I need to remind the players about him, he does it every week.
“He’s just got to watch himself, getting binned and things like that doesn’t help your team, but he’s a quality player.
“Everybody has their own personality and the way they like to play the game and his is a bit different to most players, but he’s got the ability to pull it off so good luck to him.”
Castleford will be looking to make it two wins from two after opening their Betfred Super League campaign with a 20-4 success against Catalans Dragons last week.
But Powell was quick to predict: “I think we’re going to need to improve.”
Hull have not won a competitive game since last June, a run of 12 successive defeats, but were only pipped by Hull KR on the final play of last week’s match and Powell observed: “They played well, it was just a good game.
“Hull KR defended really well. Hull are moving the ball a bit more than they did last year, particularly in yardage areas. I thought they really challenged Hull KR and they lost at the death.
“Particularly the back end of last year, the amount of injuries they had, they’ve had a tough period, but this will be a tough game.
“They look like they are well motivated this season. You’re always looking at the way a team’s organised, how well motivated they are and they look in good shape.”
But Castleford are in confident mood following last week’s victory, Powell insisted.
“I thought we played really well,” he said “Defence is something we’ve put a lot of emphasis on this pre-season so to only concede one try was a real positive.
“With the ball I thought we were good, but we made a few too many errors in attacking positions. I thought we worked hard to get field position and then we gave the ball away a little bit too early at the start of each half, but we had good control about us, a lot of players playing well, showing they’ve had good pre-seasons. I think as a team we got a lot of confidence from it. They are a really physical team so, from that perspective, our physicality was great.
“I thought we fronted up really well and won the physical battle. That’s a real plus for us and we’ll look to take that forward now into a real challenge for us on Thursday.”
Tigers will be without forward Mke McMeeken who suffered concussion against Catalans.
Matt Cook has also been ruled out after a knock last week, but Mitch Clark, Tuoyo Egodo, Jacques O’Neill and Ben Roberts are in contention for a call-up.