Daryl Powell has pragmatic approach to pre-season with Castleford Tigers

CASTLEFORD TIGERS boss Daryl Powell won’t waste time worrying about what could happen on Boxing Day – or during the rest of pre-season.

By Peter Smith
Tuesday, 24th December 2019, 6:00 am
Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell.
Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell.

Tigers lost Luke Gale for the whole of 2019 after he was injured in a January training session and fellow half-back Jamie Ellis was another pre-season victim, but Powell is refusing to dwell on the potential dangers of warm-up games or practice.

Castleford begin their build-up to the February 2 Betfred Super League opener against Toronto Wolfpack when Championship outfit Bradford Bulls visit the Jungle in two days’ time.

Forwards Liam Watts and Nathan Massey are both on the casualty list and unavailable for the Christmas fixture, but Powell insisted: “That’s the nature of the sport, you don’t worry about that.”

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Liam Watts.

He said: “You just go and play and that’s it.

“You can get injured in training, the sport is a physical contest and things happen here and there.

“You don’t worry about that, we’ll just get on with it and do what we need to do.”

Watts, a Man of Steel nominee this year, has a hamstring injury and Massey recently underwent shoulder surgery.

Danny Richardson.

But the coach stressed: “You get injuries in pre-season because it’s on, it’s pretty physical. They train harder in pre-season than at any other time of the year.

“We had 30-minute in-training [last Thursday] which was just like a game.

“You are going to get bits and bobs here and there, but he’s all right, Wattsy.

“He has got a bit of an injury, but round one he will be there.”

New signings Danny Richardson, Tyler Helpi and Derrell Olpherts are all included in a 24-man Boxing Day squad which features first-team players alongside youngsters from the lower grades.

“It is mixed, but strong,” Powell said of his side for Thursday.

“It is always a mixed team in this game, but there will be some young fellas and some senior boys who I am thinking ‘I have seen a bit of a change in you and I’m looking forward to seeing you play’.”

Powell admitted Tigers won’t be at their sharpest, but believes his men are ready for a game.

He revealed: “I watched the players train the other day and they were pretty much into each other.

“It is early and it’s Christmas so it’s a little bit different, but this game has been around now for a while and you just get on with it.

“It’s never going to be perfect and free-flowing, that’s the nature of it, but fans get fed up of not seeing a game so, for them, it’s great.

“For us, some players can make a big difference from the year before and I think we have got a couple of those in there and we’ll see how they go.”

Castleford Tigers (v Bradford Bulls): from Attley, Clare, Donnely, Doyle, Eden, Fella, Graham, Gregory, Hall, Hepi, Martin, Mata’utia, Millington, O’Neill, Olpherts, Peachey, Richardson, Robb, Schofield, Sene-Lefao, Smith, Storey, Summers, Turner.

Kick-off: Boxing Day, 11am.