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Castleford Tigers coach Powell rooting for derby rivals Leeds Rhinos

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CASTLEFORD TIGERS boss Daryl Powell has revealed he will be rooting for Leeds Rhinos in their fight against relegation.

Powell is a former Rhinos player and coach, but also reckons the rivalry with their big-city neighbours is good for Tigers – and Betfred Super League.

Castleford Tigers head coach, Daryl Powell.

Castleford Tigers head coach, Daryl Powell.

While Tigers are aiming for a return to Old Trafford this year at the end of the Super-8s, Leeds, who beat them in the 2017 Grand Final, are battling for top-flight survival in the Qualifiers.

Leeds’ demise has delighted Castleford’s fans, but Powell admitted he doesn’t want to see Rhinos go down and expects them to win their fight against the drop.

“They are in their rightful place,” said the Tigers coach, whose team visit Wigan Warriors on Friday.

“They are one of the biggest clubs in the world of rugby league.

Castleford celebrate Jamie Ellis' try against Leeds at Elland Road.

Castleford celebrate Jamie Ellis' try against Leeds at Elland Road.

“They are in a tough position, but they are a strong team.

“They will feel they should be doing better than they are at the moment, clearly, but they are going to take some beating in the Qualifiers and they’ve got experience of that.

“They know what it’s about and they are good enough to get themselves out of it, but they are going to have some tough challenges.”

Leeds traditionally attract one of the biggest crowds of the season to the Jungle and Powell added: “They are well-supported games and great atmospheres.

Leeds Rhinos celebrate being crowned Super League  champions last year.

Leeds Rhinos celebrate being crowned Super League champions last year.

“I think the competition needs Leeds in Super League, but they’ve got to be there by right, of course.”

Tigers have dominated recent league meetings, but Rhinos won the 2014 Challenge Cup final derby as well as last year’s title decider.

“The last two massive games we’ve played against Leeds, they’ve beaten us,” Powell recalled.

“In the league we’ve been consistently way, way better than them, but on the big occasion they’ve been an outstanding club over many years.

“It is still a big rivalry, that will never go away.

“Leeds – big spenders, big team, big stadium and we are little old Cas aren’t we?

“We’re punching above our weight and we want to grow ourselves as a club and a team and a reputation. We want to challenge everybody.”