AS LEGENDARY American football coach Vince Lombardi said: “It’s not whether you get knocked down, it’s whether you get up.”
In sport, setbacks are inevitable but quality teams and good players bounce back.
Castleford Tigers – and centre Tuoyo Egodo in particular – illustrated that in their 38-28 win over Wigan Warriors.
It was Tigers’ first success in three matches and came after their injury- and suspension-hit side and had trailed 20-0 inside 22 minutes and 24-8 at half-time.
Egodo, a 22-year-old Londoner in his third season at Castleford, had a tough first half as Wigan scored five tries down his side of the field, but rallied to score the crucial touchdown late on.
Recalling the dramatic fightback, Egodo, who was in Tigers’ right-centre slot, admitted: “The way the game went, my first half wasn’t as I expected it to be. There was a lot to work on, so to score meant a lot to me.
“You could see that from the way I celebrated, emotion took over.
“It was a big moment and pivotal to the win.”
After two games out of the team, Egodo was recalled for his fourth appearance and first start of the season, in place of Greg Minikin.
His try grabbed the headlines but he made an equally important intervention at the start of the second half.
The former London Broncos man’s tackle forced George Williams to lose the ball close to Tigers’ line when Wigan looked set to score and go 20 points in front again, with a kick to follow.
He recalled: “Callum Turner had to come off (for a head injury assessment) so we were down a man and it was either make a play or not and in that position I just went for it.
“There was no thought about it, luckily we were able to get the ball back and finish strongly.”
For the opening 40 minutes, it looked as though Tigers were heading for their fourth defeat of the season.
Wigan targeted the hosts’ right and Egodo admitted it took him a while to get up to the pace of the contest.
“It is hard because I haven’t had a run of games,” he said.
“It is hard to keep match fitness and keep up with the game. As you could see, in the first half it took a toll on me. In the second half, I just had to recover and make sure the errors I made in the first half weren’t there.
“My team-mates were able to help me perform well and we got the result against a very tough Wigan side.”
Castleford’s victory over Wigan came after a similar fightback at Leeds Rhinos –from 20-4 behind going into the final quarter – ended in a golden-point defeat.
Egodo said: “We are a team that fights to the end. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to get across the line against Leeds, but (last Friday) we came in knowing we needed to win the game and we did everything to do that. The first half wasn’t great but we showed the winning mentality we have in the second half and that’s why we came out on top.”
The two points came at a cost with Nathan Massey suffering a collarbone injury and joining an already lengthy casualty list.
Castleford visit Huddersfield Giants tomorrow and Egodo admitted they are “doing it tough at the moment”, but insisted: “We all believe in each other and we know whoever comes into a position will do the best they can. Last week really showed we are a side to be reckoned with, even though we are missing players.”