Castleford Tigers aim to tame champions at ‘fortress Jungle’ says Cheyse Blair
CASTLEFORD TIGERS want to turn the Jungle into a “fortress” their Australian star Cheyse Blair says.
Tigers will play only their third home game of the campaign – and the first on a Sunday afternoon – when they take on Betfred Super League champions St Helens this week.
Wigan Warriors and Wakefield Trinity have already been sent packing and Blair reckons if Tigers can continue to dominate at home this year, they can mount a serious challenge for Saints’ crown.
Cas began round seven third in the table and will go four points clear of Saints if they win on Sunday.
“I don’t think many teams like coming to the Jungle,” Blair said.
“We want it to be that way, we want to make it our fortress.
“What better way to do it than this weekend against Saints?”
Blair reckons Tigers are brimming with confidence, despite being on the back of a 9-8 loss at Warrington Wolves last week.
“We have had a really good start to the year,” he said.
“We had won four from five going into last week and that was probably a game we should have won. We put ourselves in places to win that game, but couldn’t get it done.
“There were still a lot of positives to take out of it.
“It’s still early in the season and we are on a learning curve, but we’ve got a long week this week to prepare for Sunday. Saints are a good team and they are coming off a loss as well, but we will be ready for them.”
Saints suffered their second defeat of the campaign – only one fewer than their total number of league losses last year – when Huddersfield Giants won 12-10 at Totally Wicked Stadium last Friday, but Blair reckons that makes this week’s visitors even more dangerous.
“It’s different for them,” he said.
“They have already lost two games this year and that’s not very Saints-like. I am sure they will be doing everything they can to put it right against us, but we will be ready for that.”
Though they didn’t get the victory, Tigers withstood most of what Warrington threw at them and Blair is confident a similar defensive effort this week will go a long way towards ending a seven-game losing streak against the Merseyside outfit.
He said: “Warrington haven’t been playing too well either, but they are always tough there.
“They have won all their home games this year, but our defence is one of the positives we can take out of it.
“To keep them to one try is a good effort.”
On a personal note, Blair has made a strong start to the season, despite switching between his usual centre position and the second-row.
“I came over last year and got thrown straight in,” the former Melbourne Storm man recalled.
“Obviously the footy here is a lot different, I was still finding my feet and I didn’t play my best footy or settle in as quick as I wanted to.
“But my family are here now, I am enjoying it, I have got a full pre-season under my belt and that’s probably showing on the footy field.”
Of whether he is now a back or forward, Blair added: “I’ll play either.
“I have played centre all my life, but I haven’t minded being thrown in the second-row.
“Obviously it’s a different role, but you get more ball and you get among it.
“I am getting a few tries in the back-row as well, so I am enjoying it.”