IMPROVING CASTLEFORD Tigers will have to do it tough at Hull KR tonight.
Last year’s Betfred Super League leaders are beginning to find their feet after a poor start to the campaign, but boss Daryl Powell admits their latest game is another big challenge and his side will need to be switched on mentally, as well as physically.
Conditions at KCOM Craven Park are likely to level the playing field for 2017’s promoted team who have won only one of their opening four fixtures and were hammered 36-12 at Salford Red Devils six days ago.
“It is always a tough game there,” Powell warned.
“They have had a performance they won’t have been happy with and I expect a bit of a reaction so we have got to be tough this week – a tough performance is going to be needed.”
Since their round-one drubbing at St Helens, Castleford have recorded back-to-back wins including a 28-18 defeat of visitors Hull last Saturday.
With Rovers sitting second from bottom in the table, Tigers will be favourites to join Saints and Wakefield Trinity on six points after tonight, but Powell insisted: “There are no guarantees in Super League.
“We need to go there with the right mindset and recognise we are going to need to work extremely hard to win the game.”
Powell has questioned his players’ attitude at times this year, but he added: “We have responded pretty well after the Saints game and we are just trying to improve game by game.
“Our attitude to defence has been better, but we have conceded a couple of soft tries.
“We are looking to improve across the board; our mindset has been pretty good, but I think we need to go to another level [tonight].
“The conditions are going to make it like winter rugby league and that requires a different kind of approach.
“We need to get that right.”
Powell admits the cold and wet weather and heavy pitches at this stage of the season are not ideal for his attack-minded team, but stressed that is no excuse for not playing well.
“The way we play, we like to move the ball and to create opportunities,” he said. “That can be made more difficult by poor conditions, but you have got to be able to play in all sorts of conditions.
“Certain teams are better in certain conditions – but we don’t know when they are going to come!”
Winger Greg Eden and forward Joe Wardle both have a hamstring injury and drop out from the Tigers team which overcame Hull.
James Clare has been drafted into the squad after playing on dual-registration for Halifax last week and Matt Cook, James Green and Jacob Trueman could all be recalled.
Rovers are still without former Leeds Rhinos skipper Danny McGuire (ribs), but forwards James Donaldson and Chris Clarkson are back in contention and Jordan Walne is also vying for a call-up.
Ex-Tigers forward Lee Jewitt drops out due to injury.
Hull KR: from Quinlan, Minns, Heffernan, Shaw, Scruton, Lunt, Masoe, Blair, Greenwood, Kavanagh, Donaldson, Clarkson, Lee, Mulhern, Salter, Atkin, Walne, Tickle, Carney.
Castleford Tigers: from Clare, Cook, Ellis, Foster, Gale, Green, Holmes, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Shenton, Trueman, Webster.
Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).
Kick-off: Tonight, 7.45pm.