A WIN over Salford Red Devils this afternoon would make it a good start to the season for Castleford Tigers.
Last year’s Betfred Super League leaders were heavily defeated at St Helens in round one, but have since bounced back with victories over Widnes Vikings and Hull.
Coach Daryl Powell – whose side were without a game last weekend due to the bad weather – reckons they aren’t yet where they want to be, but are on the right track.
“We are improving, that’s the key thing,” Powell stressed.
“We got some confidence from the way we played against Hull.
“We put some really dangerous things together and we are getting better.
“We have played Saints away and Hull and they are tough games and Widnes have started the season pretty well, they are challenging everybody.
“I think we have done well. It is about ticking some wins off and getting more confidence and building combinations.
“If we win this week we will be in a good place, but we have got to win the game first.”
Powell reckons that will be tougher than the sides’ league form suggests.
Salford have lost three of their four games so far, but the Tigers boss warned: “They could be better off than they are points-wise.
“They were pretty close to getting something out of the Wakefield game and Saints got over the top of them last week, but they were in it in the first half. They are a tough side, they have a big forward pack and they’ve adjusted their game a bit from last year.
“The half-backs are pretty tidy, [Robert] Lui goes well for them and Josh Jones is playing really well.
“They will be a challenge.”
Powell insisted the postponement of last week’s scheduled game at Hull KR has not hampered Tigers, but he admitted they are keen to get back into action.
“We wanted to play,” he said of last week.
“Conditions were poor so there’s not a lot we can do.
“We just want to get into a groove now, get playing with a bit of consistency and fluency.
“That’s what we are aiming to do.”
Powell will select his side from the 19 named for last week’s aborted trip to East Yorkshire.
Hamstring injury victims Greg Eden and Joe Wardle remain on the casualty list after being injured last time out, against Hull.
Matt Cook, James Clare, James Green and Jake Trueman are all vying for a call-up after missing that game.
Salford are without prop Craig Kopczak from the team beaten 34-2 at St Helens last Sunday.
George Griffin, Greg Johnson and former Castleford forward Weller Hauraki are all in contention for a return to the 17.
Castleford Tigers: from Clare, Cook, Ellis, Foster, Gale, Green, Holmes, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Trueman, Webster.
Salford Red Devils: from O’Brien, Johnson, Welham, Sa’u, Evalds, Lui, Littlejohn, Tomkins, Griffin, Jones, Hauraki, Flanagan, Tasi, Burgess, McCarthy, Nakubuwai, Wood, Mossop, Bibby.
Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).
Kick-off: Today, 3.30pm.