Castleford Tigers v Salford Red Devils: It’s safety first for Tigers ahead of Wembley
SOME CASTLEFORD Tigers players have taken their children out of school or asked wives to work from home to reduce the risk of catching coronavirus ahead of next week’s Betfred Challenge Cup final.
Tigers play Salford Red Devils at the Jungle tomorrow in their final game before the Wembley meeting with St Helens six days later.
Salford will be returning from a Covid-enforced layoff and in recent weeks the virus has been spreading around clubs throughout Super League.
An outbreak now would be a disaster for Tigers and coach Daryl Powell revealed everything possible is being done to prevent that.
“For the last few weeks we’ve been talking about not going anywhere that is going to open you up as an individual and us as a club,” he said.
“There’s not much you can do if wives are going to jobs and kids are at school.
“With infections it is so hard, but there have been some serious sacrifices made by some of our players, taking kids out of school 10 days before the final, wives are working from home.
“The boys are doing everything they possibly can to get us to next week with no disruptions.”
Four academy players have been drafted into Tigers’ initial squad for tomorrow and a total of five could make their debut.
Cain Robb was already a member of the first-team group, but Caelum Jordan, Jack Sadler, Adam Rusling and Nathan Magee have all been awarded a squad number for the game.
Grant Millington, Cheyse Blair, Jesse Sene-Lefao and Greg Eden will get a chance to prove their form and fitness for Wembley, after an injury layoff.
But long-term casualties Jake Trueman and Gareth O’Brien – who had been named in the initial squad for last Tuesday’s cancelled game at Huddersfield Giants – are not included and several other key players won’t be risked.
Tigers have not played for more than two weeks and Powell has had to balance a need for game time against the risk of players getting hurt.
Anyone failing a head test tomorrow would be ruled out of the final and the coach – who said he has not yet decided on his Wembley line-up – conceded: “There’s a risk both ways and it’s not ideal, but it is what it is.
“The risk of putting a [full] team out on Sunday was – I felt – too much, to be honest.
“We’re making conscious decisions on players who aren’t fully fit, making sure they are right for next week.
“Some of those decisions have been taken out of our hands, but clearly there are some decisions I’m making to ensure we have the best possible chance next week.
“We have just got to do our best as these next 10 days are absolutely crucial for our season.
“We have to get it right.”
Castleford Tigers from: Shenton, Richardson, Watts, Millington, Holmes, Blair, Foster, Hepi, Clare, Sene-Lefao, Eden, Bienek, Peachey, Martin, Hall, Robb, Qareqare, Jordan, Sadler, Rusling, Magee.
Referee: Tom Grant (Leeds).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3.30pm.
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