Castleford Tigers v Hull FC: Backing stand-ins to impress again

Stepping in: 'Castleford's Ben Roberts.'''Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Stepping in: 'Castleford's Ben Roberts.'''Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
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CAPTAIN MICHAEL Shenton backs the decision to rest players for Castleford Tigers’ final fixture of the Betfred Super-8s, but insists the players on duty can not take the game lightly.

Tigers will be at home in a sudden-death semi-final in six days’ time and coach Daryl Powell has opted to leave out Zak Hardaker, Oliver Holmes, Nathan Massey, Grant Millington, Adam Milner and Shenton for tonight’s visit of Hull.

Ben Roberts is set to return from a back injury and Jy Hitchcox, Tuoyo Egodo, Andy Lynch, Will Maher and Conor Fitzsimmons are all drafted into the squad, along with last week’s unused reserves, Joel Monaghan and Kevin Larroyer.

“Whatever Daryl wants to do, we are happy,” Shenton said of the team selection. “We have to be smart with that sort of thing, but also we can’t get complacent and just think it’s going to click. That’s why it was so important to get the result last week.”

Tigers were without three key players for the 38-20 win at Wigan Warriors five days ago and Shenton said it is crucial the players called up this evening show a similar attitude.

“I was so proud of that performance and the boys were smiling after the game,” he said. “We focused on ourselves, but we knew Wigan were going to be looking at us and thinking we were missing Junior Moors, one of our best front-rowers and Ben Roberts and Luke Gale, who are key to how we play.

“There was plenty against us, but we spoke about that and we said whoever takes the shirt and goes out on to the field has a job to do.

“There’s big boots to fill, but you have to reach our standard. It was a really pleasing performance and we have got plenty to build on coming into the really important part of the season.”

Tigers lost their opening Super-8s tie at home to St Helens, but have won all five since – including three after having secured the league leaders’ shield.

Shenton reckons they need to maintain that run tonight, despite the team changes. He said: “We had such big games in front of us and we knew it was important to carry some momentum and put some quality performances in.

“It would have been easy to switch off, but if we had lost those three games we’d have been in a bit of a hole and it’s hard to get out of it and get confidence going into a one-off game.

“We have got some momentum now and it’s important we use the Hull game to carry it on. We have just got to keep doing our job and focusing on ourselves. That’s what we’ve been good at this year, not worrying about what’s opposite us. It’s more focusing on ourselves, getting the job done and playing our way.”

Hull need a point to seal their semi-final place. Chris Green, Fetuli Talanoa and Sika Manu are all in contention after injury with Jordan Thompson dropping out.

Castleford Tigers: from Cook, Eden, Edogo, Fitzsimmons, Foster, Hitchcox, T Holmes, Larroyer, Lynch, Maher, McMeeken, McShane, Minikin, Monaghan, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Springer, Trueman, Webster.

Hull: Shaul, Fonua, Tuimavave, Griffin, Talanoa, Kelly, Sneyd, Taylor, Houghton, Watts, Minichiello, Ellis, Connor, Green, Washbrook, Michaels, Manu, Bowden, Fash.

Referee: Ben Thaler (Wakefield).

Kick-off: Tonight, 8pm