CUP AND league are equally important to Castleford Tigers, coach Daryl Powell says.
The Betfred Super League leaders play host to St Helens today with a place in the quarter-finals of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup at stake.
Competing on two fronts will test Tigers’ squad, but Powell insisted they don’t regard the Cup as a distraction as they bid to be crowned league champions for the first time.
“We see everything as important,” Powell stressed. We have just been through an Easter period and we’ve got another one [two games in four days] coming up, but we’ve got to play each game in front of us on its merits.
“The Challenge Cup is one of the biggest events in the calendar and we aren’t going to go into it anything other than absolutely flat-out.
“It is an important game for us.”
Saints are one of two teams to defeat Tigers this year, having recorded a 26-22 win at their own ground on Easter Monday.
Powell reckons that result will be extra motivation for his side, particularly the forwards, but he warned they can’t rely on home advantage to get them through.
“They really challenged us in the middle of the field and I would expect our pack to be pretty frustrated by that,” he said of the league defeat.
“There’s certainly some things we will be looking to do a lot better there. Being at home gives us a lot of confidence, but it won’t do it on its own, it is about performance.
“I would imagine they will be pretty desperate. They lost last week and it is a competition they have a history of doing well in, so it is going to be a really big game for both teams.”
Zak Hardaker, Luke Gale and Mike McMeeken will return for Cas after England duty last week. Ben Roberts could be available following a groin injury, but there are doubts over Rangi Chase (neck) and Junior Moors (back). Joel Monaghan and Tom Holmes drop out from last week’s team.
Castleford Tigers: from Chase, Cook, Eden, Gale, Hardaker, Foster, Lynch, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Minkin, Milner, Moors, Sene-Lefao, Roberts, Springer, Shenton, Webster.
St Helens: from Makinson, Morgan, Percival, Swift, Fages, Smith, Walmsley, Roby, Amor, Wilkin, McCarthy-Scarsbrook, Douglas, Thompson, Lee, Peyroux, Richards, Knowles, Grace, Taia.
Referee Phil Bentham (Warrington).
Kick-off: Today, 2.30pm.
Meanwhile, Tigers say they are investigating an alleged incident in Featherstone involving one of their players.
The club issued a statement after rumours began circulating about an altercation allegedly involving Rangi Chase at Thursday’s Challenge Cup game between Featherstone Rovers and visitors Halifax.
The statement in full said: “Castleford Tigers are aware of an incident that occurred last night in Featherstone. The club is investigating the incident and will make no further comment at this time.”