Castleford Tigers boss Danny Ward not putting all eggs in one basket ahead of huge period

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For a large section of Castleford Tigers supporters, Friday’s visit of Hull FC represents the best hope of claiming a potentially decisive win.

Tony Smith's team have only pride to play for in the final three rounds and will arrive at Wheldon Road with makeshift half-backs.

A trip to Super League leaders Wigan Warriors follows before a date with Leeds Rhinos in the last game at Headingley this season.

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There is a sense that the Tigers need to make the most of their final home match but Danny Ward is not putting all his eggs in one basket.

"I'm the same as I was going in last week: 100 per cent confident that we can win the game," said the Castleford boss.

"We're not looking at games as if one is more winnable than the next. We can't look at who we're playing and what our chances are like in each game.

"We've got to give it full beans every week in the situation we're in. The game in front of us is the biggest game of the year."

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Ward began his short spell in charge with a vital victory against Wakefield Trinity but has since seen Castleford ship 100 points in defeats to St Helens and Warrington Wolves.

Castleford were hammered last week. (Photo: John Clifton/ were hammered last week. (Photo: John Clifton/
Castleford were hammered last week. (Photo: John Clifton/

With only two points to play with at the bottom, the Tigers moved on quickly from the 66-12 hammering by Warrington.

"It was a really tough one to take but the good thing is it's a shorter turnaround," said Ward. "We've had one less day so haven't had time to sulk or mope about.

"We didn't really review that game as a team. We thought the best progression for us was to move forward.

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"We didn't want to gloss over a poor performance and made that nice and clear – but at the same time, we have to be positive going into this week.

Charbel Tasipale celebrates a try against Wakefield. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ Tasipale celebrates a try against Wakefield. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Charbel Tasipale celebrates a try against Wakefield. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

"We've made training short and snappy to get people smiling and take the pressure off a little bit.

"It's good to be back home this week. Hopefully the boys can lift after last week and have a good performance."

To compound their issues, Castleford lost Charbel Tasipale, George Lawler and Sam Hall to injury at the Halliwell Jones Stadium and Jacob Miller was subsequently banned for one game.

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The Tigers have received positive news on Tasipale's hamstring strain, with the centre optimistic about playing again this year.

Paul McShane has been sidelined since June. Picture: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.comPaul McShane has been sidelined since June. Picture: Allan McKenzie/
Paul McShane has been sidelined since June. Picture: Allan McKenzie/

"It's a grade one to two," said Ward. "If you speak to Charbs, he's really confident that he'll be back before the end of the year. The physio is a little bit more cautious. I'm hoping to see him again.

"They're always going to be a couple of week jobs. It's unfortunate we've only got three weeks so if we see him again, that'll be a bonus – but it's not as bad as we first suspected."

Tasipale, Lawler and Hall have joined a sizeable casualty list headed by captain Paul McShane.

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The experienced hooker has not played since suffering a broken arm in June and his chances of featuring again this year were rated as unlikely.

McShane is now back in training but the 33-year-old will not be pushed to prove his fitness in time for the final game at former club Leeds on September 22.

"Macca would tell you he could go out and play this week if he strapped it up," said Ward.

Hull have dropped out of the play-off race. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/ have dropped out of the play-off race. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/
Hull have dropped out of the play-off race. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/

"We've got to go through the standard protocols. He's got to see a specialist that week of the last game and that will give him the all-clear or show where he is with it.

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"It's too hard to call at this time. It's only been about 12 weeks since his operation so we're not going to rush Macca or put any pressure on him to play.

"He's been out training today with the lads who aren't playing and is just happy to be back out on the field. It's great to see him running around and the energy he brings to the group.

"If he's fit, he's fit; if he's not, absolutely no dramas because it was a bad injury."

While Castleford continue their fight for survival, Hull's review into their 2023 failings is already under way.

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After losing their last three games, the Black and Whites are out to avoid a familiar late-season collapse.

"If we do well in these last three games, that goes out of the window a bit," said Smith.

"We've been there or thereabouts and not too far off it. The run of seven defeats, not all of those were bad performances but it hurt us in terms of where we were and where we've finished.

"We've got to learn some lessons from that but I also feel it's a natural part of our evolution as a team and me with a new group of players and club. You go through some of that pain. Whilst we don't like it, it was probably necessary to make some significant changes to the way we played.

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"Sometimes when the pressure is on, you revert to old ways – and at times we've done that. We've probably lacked a bit of depth and belief as well at times. We need to break through some of that.

"We're still working on finishing the season strong."

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