Castleford Tigers' forwards placed on red alert - George Griffin and Paul McShane expect Leeds Rhinos to come out firing
Forwards George Griffin and Paul McShane are gearing up for an onslaught from their Leeds Rhinos rivals tonight.
Despite winning only two of their eight competitive games so far this year, Rhinos’ pack - in particular big men Mikolaj Oledzki, Matt Prior and Zane Tetevano - have produced some strong performances, including in last week’s 18-12 defeat by Hull.
Tigers coach Daryl Powell has described Leeds’ starting pack as “fearsome”.
and Griffin admitted Castleford’s forwards will need to be on top of their game in what is likely to be a physical contest.
But the former Hull KR, London BronCos, Salford Red Devils and Wakefield Trinity front-rower reckons if Tigers can take the sting out of the opposite six, that will be a giant step towards them getting back to winning ways in Betfred Super League.
“We’ve been talking about how well their pack’s playing to get them on the front foot,” Griffin admitted.
“I think if we can contain them and keep them quiet it will go a long way to winning the game.
“They’ve got some big lads, but so have we.
“We’ve got an agile pack as well, so hopefully we can match them and get over the top of them.”
Griffin - who this week signed a one-year extension to his previous contract, keeping him at Tigers until the end of 2022 - said the home side are reading nothing into Rhinos’ poor results this term.
“They always come out firing,” he warned of Leeds, who Tigers beat 18-10 at St Helens on April 2.
“They are a team you can never write off.
“They have suffered a little bit with injuries this year, as have we, but they’ve always been in and around games.
“They have had some tight losses, but they are full of beans, full of energy and always have been.
“They’ve got some great outside-backs and Luke Gale is a great player and leads them so it is a tough challenge, but hopefully we take it to them and come away with the spoils.”
Tigers have a Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final coming up in eight days’ time against Warrington Wolves, but Griffin claimed won’t affect their approach tonight.
He described the derby as “huge” and stressed: “Every game in the league is big.
“You think you can maybe drop a couple of points here and there, but the league is so tight this year you can’t afford to do that.
“We’ve lost a couple now back to back so to go three from three would not look good in the league at the end of the season.
“It’s a really big game and it’s not just about getting two points, it is about progressing as a team and hopefully gaining a bit of momentum going into the semi’, but all eyes are on this one at the minute.”
One of tonight’s key battles could be at hooker, where McShane - the reigning Man of Steel - will take on Rhinos’ Kruise Leeming and Brad Dwyer.
Leeming was called up to train with England earlier this year and Dwyer has become a big influence for Rhinos, usually off the substitutes’ bench.
“They are both massive threats,” McShane, who began his career at Leeds, said.
“Kruise has got a bit more play in him, then they bring Brad on who is quick out of dummy-half and will take you on every chance he gets.
“You have to account for them when you are playing Leeds, because they can tear you apart if you give them a chance.”
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