GREG MINIKIN expects Castleford Tigers to face a fired-up Leeds Rhinos when the two sides clash at Magic Weekend tomorrow.
The last time these two rivals met, in March, Castleford inflicted a humiliating 66-10 victory on neighbours Leeds – with centre-cum-winger Minikin claiming a hat-trick of tries.
That win continued Super League leaders Tigers’ recent good run against the Headingley club, but Minikin expects a backlash when the two teams meet tomorrow in Newcastle.
“It’s always tough, but I don’t think the scoreline last time out represented what Leeds are as a club,” said the 22-year-old.
“They will definitely come out firing wanting to get the win, as will we.
“We will have to be on top of our game to get the win at the weekend.
We are expecting a tighter game this time, it will be tough, and Leeds will come out fired up. We will have to match that.Castleford Tigers’ Greg Minikin
“Leeds have done a lot of improving, playing really well in the league.
“They are a strange team, the way they attack, they throw a lot of stuff at you.
“Sometimes, that can surprise you, so we will have to be good defensively to win.
“We are expecting a tighter game this time, it will be tough, and Leeds will come out fired up. We will have to match that.”
Since that defeat in March, the Rhinos have been in good form, climbing to fourth in the table and just two points off leaders Castleford.
Where free-scoring Tigers are streets ahead of everyone else in Super League is their points tally, for and against.
They boast an amazing 262 points difference, scoring 476 and conceding 214 in 13 games. None of their rivals have broken the three-figure barrier, with Hull FC on 61, Salford on 92, Leeds on 59 and Wigan on minus one.
Former York City Knights star Minikin has been key to that success, scoring 15 tries in 12 appearances.
“It’s really good (at Tigers), especially on the wing,” said the Knaresborough-born winger. “It’s easy to score tries when you keep getting passed the ball and all you have to do is put it down.
“The way Cas play, it’s really good to attack teams.
“We are an attacking side, we have done work on our defence in pre-season – we needed to after last year – and have got that defensive edge back. But we know we can attack, score tries from different positions on the park. Being a winger in this Cas team is very enjoyable.”
Since arriving from League One outfit York at the end of 2015, Minikin spent time on loan at Batley Bulldogs in the Championship last season, as he got acclimatised to the jump in standards of Super League.
And he admits he was surprised to get the nod from Tigers coach Daryl Powell to earn a regular starting spot when this season kicked-off in February.
Two tries for the Yorkshireman in a 44-16 win over Leigh Centurions was just the prelude for what was to come.
“To be honest, I didn’t really expect to start the season,” he admitted.
“But I managed to get a starting spot and keep it. I am just trying to concentrate on my own game and playing well for Cas.
“My target (at the start of the season) was to try and play as much as I can. Get in the team, stay there, then nail down a starting spot. It just happened earlier than I expected.
“I was a centre, but now I am on the wing, but I don’t really mind. I am loving it.
“I wasn’t that confident under the high ball, so have done a lot of work on that. I have got a bit better, although now I say that, everyone will start kicking at me.
“It is a different position, but I have done a lot of work on it.”