Challenge Cup final: Castleford Tigers feeling 'very positive' ahead of Wembley clash with St Helens says Niall Evalds

Star full-back Niall Evalds is hoping to make it third time lucky in tomorrow’s Betfred Challenge Cup final.

Friday, 16th July 2021, 6:00 am

The Castleford Tigers ace was a runner-up at Wembley last year, when Salford Red Devils were pipped by Leeds Rhinos.

He also featured for Salford in their 2019 Super League Grand Final defeat by St Helens - Tigers’ opponents tomorrow - and isn’t willing to settle for second best this time.

“I’ve come here to win trophies and that’s any player’s goal,” Evalds said.

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Tigers players board the coach to Wembley. Picture by Steve Riding.

“Games like this are what you want to play in and to play in another one will be a special occasion.

“To play in a Challenge Cup final in my first season at Cas will be great, for me and all involved.”

Last year’s Wembley final was played behind closed doors and, with 45,000 fans expected tomorrow, Evalds stated: “I’m looking forward to the fans being there.

“Last year it was a weird occasion, with a massive stadium like Wembley and about 20 people in there.

Fans cheer Tigers on their way to Wembley. Picture by Steve Riding.

“I know this is at a limited capacity, but I’m looking forward to playing in front of our fans and having a good atmosphere - and a different result to last year.

“The atmosphere with no fans is strange, you don’t quite get that same big-game feel.

“Everyone is excited to play in front of them and we’ll all be doing our best to bring the trophy back home to Cas.”

Tigers travelled to London yesterday and will have a look around the stadium this afternoon.

Castleford have won only two of their last eight games, but Evalds described the mood in their camp as “really positive.”

He insisted: “We’ve had a good week of training and worked on a few things.

“We’re confident, we know we’re playing a great side in Saints, who I’m sure will be favourites, but we’re concentrating on what we can do and we’re just ready to perform on Saturday now.”

Injuries and cancellations have restricted Tigers to just four games since their semi-final win over Warrington Wolves at the start of last month.

Coach Daryl Powell fielded a second-string side for one of those, the 70-18 loss to Salford five days ago, but Evalds isn’t concerned by the lack of game time.

He said: “It’s one of those things. Last year I hadn’t played for about eight weeks and went straight into a Challenge Cup final, it not something I’ve not done before.

“We’ve trained hard, we’ve not just been lazing around. We’ll be fresh and ready to go.

“We don’t need any more motivation to go out and win a trophy. This is why you play rugby, we’ve all grown up watching these big games and to be part of that is something that will stay with us forever. It’s a massive day.”

Powell named his 21-man squad yesterday. It is: Niall Evalds Derrell Olpherts, Peter Mata’utia, Michael Shenton, Jake Trueman, Danny Richardson, Liam Watts, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Oliver Holmes, Cheyse Blair, Adam Milner, Nathan Massey, George Griffin, Alex Foster, James Clare, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Daniel Smith, Suaia Matagi, Jordan Turner, Gareth O’Brien.

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