Castleford Tigers need to be on their game against 'fearsome' Leeds Rhinos pack says team boss Daryl Powell
Coach Daryl Powell insists Castleford Tigers are dealing with first things first, which means Friday's visit of Leeds Rhinos is now their most important fixture.
Tigers have a Betfred Challenge Cup semi-final against Warrington Wolves coming up eight days later, but Powell stressed they won’t think about that until full-time in the Rhinos game.
“We have got a couple of big weeks, starting with this week against Leeds,” he said.
“It will be a tough challenge for us, I think.
“Physicality-wise, their starting pack in particular is pretty fearsome, so our boys need to be on.”
Powell added: “We have got a big game in front of us and that’s what really matters at the moment.
“Around semi-finals you are always mindful of the week after, that’s just the way it is, but the boys have trained well and they are looking forward to the Leeds challenge.
“They need to leave the semi-final until next week and focus on one game at a time.
“We need to build a bit of form and confidence.
“We need to play well, we need to stiffen our resolve defensively and then get a bit of flow to our attacking game.”
Tigers - who have Cheyse Blair and Jacques O'Neill available after injury - are on a two-game losing run in Super League, but Powell reckons the results will come once they get their performances right.
“I don’t think we’ve really played that great this year,” he admitted.
“We’ve done some good things and we started the season well, but we’ve been rattled by injuries.
“A lot of them are unavoidable contact injuries in games so we are having to work our way through that, but we have just got to focus on performance and getting some individual players playing well.
“We want to win this game, it’s an important one for us and we’ll take it from there.”
This week's game is the first time Tigers have faced Leeds at the Jungle since July, 2019 and Powell is looking forward to renewing the rivalry on home turf.
“There’s a real big feeling between Leeds and Castleford fans,” he said.
“At the moment you don’t have away fans so it perhaps doesn’t feel quite as intense because of that, but certainly it’s a big game in players’ and spectators’ minds.”
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