CASTLEFORD Tigers captain Luke Gale says he isn’t “paying attention” to Wigan Warriors boss Shaun Wane’s complaints about his inclusion in their Challenge Cup quarter-final tie.
The scrum-half wasn’t named in Daryl Powell’s original 19-man squad last Thursday but had a fitness test on his injured ankle the following day and was drafted in in time for Saturday’s game at DW Stadium.
It didn’t have the desired effect – Castleford still lost 26-12 – but Wane revealed afterwards that his players were “very, very motivated” in part due to the “illegal” change and also after Powell had complained about referee Ben Thaler’s performance when Wigan won at Wheldon Road earlier this season.
Gale, who had missed Tigers’ previous match against Hull FC with the injury, told the YEP: “I wasn’t even aware of what he’d said.
“Illegal? I don’t know about. I don’t really listen to what coaches say in the media, though, to be fair.
“Often it’s just them having a go at each other so I don’t pay much attention.
“And my ankle’s pretty sore, to be honest. I wasn’t always going to play but it was a quarter-final of a Challenge Cup and I’d have played on a broken leg if I could.
“But I had to make sure I was right and make sure it was no daft, rash decision.
“I have got a grade two tear of my ligament so it was quite painful when I woke up Sunday morning but I’ll rest up now and get right for Salford on Friday.”
In-form Gale, who hopes to make his England debut in the Four Nations later this year, had no qualms with Wigan’s victory, however.
Wigan Warriors were 22-0 ahead by half-time, crushing the visitors’ hopes of repeating their famous quarter-final win there two years earlier when they made it all the way to Wembley.
“Wigan were the better team; they played with a simple game-plan, completed at 100 per cent in that first half and their scramble defence was outstanding,” said Gale.
“We probably created three opportunities in that first half and just couldn’t quite take them.
“We couldn’t back up our own defence, they got us in the arm-wrestle and just ground us down.
“To be 22 points down at half-time in a quarter-final is too much to claw back.
“We gave them a bit of a game in the second period but could never put them under the sort of pressure they did with us.”
Gale, who turned 28 last week, admits it showed the difference in class from a Wigan side who sit in second compared to a talented but inconsistent Castleford, who currently reside in seventh spot.
“It was massively disappointing, to be honest,” conceded the 2015 Dream Team No7.
“We just weren’t good enough. We fell short and it was disappointing.
“They taught us a lesson on how to defend.
“We can score points against any side but I think big games are won on simple game-plans, completing at a high percentage and defence, and we’re just not defending consistently well enough at the moment.”
That will need to change if Powell’s side are going to push on in the next stage of the season although, in all likelihood, Saturday’s defeat ends Castleford’s hopes of silverware this year.
They are nine points adrift of the top-four, so already have a real battle on to compete for semi-final spots once they do confirm their top-eight placing.
Tigers have lost their last four home games, too, so won’t mind going on the road to Salford this weekend.
“We’ve just got to take each game as it comes now,” added Gale.
“The Challenge Cup has gone and Salford is a must-win match.
“We’ve got four games left and we have to get as far up that ladder as we can before the Super-8s start.”
On one positive, he did see Mountainside, the racehorse he part-owns with Leeds Rhinos captain Danny McGuire and other syndicate members, win at Uttoxeter on Sunday.
“It’s his second win and he came in at 14/1,” Gale said.
“So, we were poor on the pitch but on the racecourse it’s been okay.”