DARYL POWELL will be looking to put his Championship knowledge to good use when Castleford Tigers visit Batley Bulldogs tomorrow.
The Tetley’s Challenge Cup fourth round tie (2pm) will be the first time Powell has coached against Kingstone Press Championship opposition since leaving Featherstone Rovers almost a year ago.
Ironically, his final match in charge of Rovers – who he guided to stop spot in the Championship three years in succession – was away to Batley, last May.
The Tigers boss admitted his knowledge of the second tier is a “huge advantage” and insisted it means there is no danger of Cas taking their part-time opponents lightly or of Mount Pleasant’s unfamiliar surroundings catching them by surprise.
“If you go up against a Championship team and you don’t understand the level, you can get turned over,” Powell warned. “I know that level and what it is all about. I know John Kear as a coach and I know what the surroundings are like, so there’ll be no surprises for me.”
Bulldogs were runners-up in last year’s Championship Grand Final, but have yet to spark this season and are seventh in the table with three wins and three defeats from six games.
Powell said: “They are still trying to find their team and they’ve had a few things put in front of them which have made it pretty hard. The betting thing (players Ayden Faal and Jon Campbell are serving long bans for breaching the RFL’s gambling rules) won’t have helped, they’ve had some injuries in the outside-backs and Ben Black has been injured.
“But John Kear is a smart coach and they will get there sooner rather than later. I have been to Batley a number of times with Featherstone and it has always been a battle. John is going to have his team pretty well motivated and it is probably the most difficult pitch in rugby league to play on. We have to be aware of that and of what the opposition is going to throw at us, but ultimately it is about us concentrating on our own game.”
Tigers have a poor record against lower division opponents in the Challenge Cup, having lost to Widnes Vikings, Barrow Raiders and Featherstone – then coached by Powell – in recent seasons. But Powell insisted: “I don’t think we need to be nervous. The past is the past. For us it is all about preparing well and playing well. I don’t see any reason why we should fear what’s happened before, it is all about what happens now.
“We have got to focus on getting our game right. It is slightly different surroundings than we are used to and the field is certainly different, but if we go there and play well – which I am confident we will do – we will get the win.”
Ashley Gibson has recovered from a knee injury and could make his Tigers debut, with Ryan Boyle set for his first appearance of the season following knee surgery and Scott Wheeldon (ankle) also poised to return.
Adam Milner and Ben Reynolds are included in the initial 19, with Daryl Clark, Craig Huby and Grant Millington being rested. It will be Liam Finn’s 200th career appearance
Batley Bulldogs: from Greenwood, Finigan, Bretherton, Leatherbarrow, Smith, Nicholson, Rowe, Davies, Scott, Applegarth, Leak, Leary, Brennan, Paterson, Blake, Chandler, Gledhill, Griffin, Martin.
Castleford Tigers: from Shenton, Carney, Dorn, Sneyd, Lynch, Milner, Hauraki, Massey, Boyle, Holmes, Mariano, Wheeldon, Ellis, Gibson, Channing, Clare, Fleming, Finn, Reynolds.
Referee: George Stokes (Wigan).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 2pm.