Castleford Tigers v Leigh Centurions - we can get better insists winger Derrell Olpherts
They could not have made a better start to the season, in terms of results, but winger Derrell Olpherts reckons Castleford Tigers have yet to hit anything like top form.
Tigers return to the Jungle, for the first time since October 1 last year, when Leigh Centurions are the visitors on Friday evening.
Coach Daryl Powell’s side boast a 100 per cent record from three games, in Betfred Super League and the Challenge Cup, but Olpherts feels results have been better than performances so far.
Castleford needed a try after the hooter to send last Friday’s Cup tie at Hull KR into sudden-death extra-time, before Gareth O’Brien won it with a drop goal in the 99th minute.
Rovers, like Leigh, have yet to win this year and the scare at Craven Park was a warning of what can happen if Tigers don’t raise their level, Olpherts says.
“We can kick on,” he insisted.
“Last week wasn’t a good performance from us at all, it wasn’t like us, how we played - we scraped through.
“I think how we played against Warrington was good, but we can play better.
“We were a bit scratchy against Leeds and we still pulled a win out, but there’s still more from us to come and we can be better in every area.
“But hopefully we keep winning, which is all that matters.”
Tigers started well against both Warrington and Leeds in their opening two league matches, but were 22-6 behind at half-time last week and - with fatigue a danger after the marathon cup effort - Olpherts stressed: “We can’t start like we did last week.
“It wasn’t a good start at all; we were lucky to come back and we will be looking to start a lot better.
“We can’t concede so many points in the first half, but there is a lot of ambition and character and belief in this side.”
Though newly-promoted Leigh have lost all three of their competitive games so far this year, Olpherts is anticipating a battle.
He predicted: “We are expecting them to come out firing.
“They have been playing well.
“People have been writing them off, but you can’t write any team off in Super League - they have a point to prove, like everyone has, so we’ll be doing our best to try and get one over them.”
Niall Evalds is set to return at full-back for Tigers, with Gareth O’Brien moving into the halves to replace Danny Richardson.
Sam Hall has been called into the initial 21-man squad and Brad Helpi, Greg Eden and Lewis Bienek are also on stand-by.
Leigh could give a debut to Kiwi forward James Bell and three-quarter Josh Simm who joined them this week on loan from St Helens.
Castleford Tigers: from Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Blair, Milner, Massey, Griffin, Hepi, Sene-Lefao, Smith, Eden, Turner, Bienek, Hall, O’Brien.
Leigh Centurions: from Brierley, Russell, Thornley, Tierney, Mellor, Flower, Hood, Ioane, Hellewell, Thompson, Bell, Gerrard, Peteru, Gee, Sidlow, McCarthy, Mullen, Brand, Peats, Reynolds, Simm.
Referee: Marcus Griffiths (Widnes).
Kick-off: Friday, 7.45pm.
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