Hull KR v Castleford Tigers: Top-six place is ours to lose says Cas forward George Griffin
Castleford Tigers forward George Griffin says a place in the play-offs is “ours to lose” ahead of Saturday's huge showdown at Hull KR.
Tigers began Betfred Super League’s penultimate round in sixth place and will qualify for the play-offs if they win.
Defeat would not end their hopes, but leave them needing to beat third-placed Warrington Wolves next weekend and Griffin described the visit to East Yorkshire as “absolutely massive”.
He said: “I don’t think I’ve ever seen it so tight coming into the back end of the season.
“We are in it at the minute and I think, now we’ve got the play-offs in our sights, it’s ours to lose.
“There’s some great teams around us so everyone’s fighting for sixth - or even fifth spot - so it’s play-offs football already.
“I can’t emphasise how important it is, but we have to stay relaxed about it at the same time.”
Griffin, whose previous clubs include Hull KR, insisted Tigers aren’t feeling the pressure.
“It’s more we are excited about what could happen, given where we were a couple of months ago,” he added.
“Nobody thought we could make the play-offs, so to think we could grab fifth is pretty exciting.
“We have to play well, but we are capable of doing it as long as we put out on the field what we do in training.”
Castleford have won five of their seven games since losing to St Helens at Wembley in July, climbing from eighth in the table.
They lost eight of their previous nine before the current run and Griffin admitted he can’t put his finger on why things have turned around so dramatically.
“We’ve been doing the right things all season,” he reflected.
“I think maybe we just reached a turning point and things just started working for us.
“We stuck at what we know and we seem to have come out on top.”
Tigers showed their battling qualities last week when they overcame Salford Red Devils 29-18 in Newcastle, despite going into the game with no specialist half-backs and losing hooker Paul McShane to an ankle injury at half-time.
“We are pretty uplifted,” Griffin said of the mood after that result.
“We went out there with a bit of an injury-stricken team and boys out of position, but we managed to get the win against a good team so spirits are up and we’re looking forward to this week.”
Half-backs Danny Richardson (concussion) and Gareth O’Brien (neck) could both feature after missing last Saturday’s win.
Jacques O’Neill, Lewis Bienek and Lewis Peachey are also vying for a call-up, but Cheyse Blair drops out.
McShane has been included in Tigers’ initial squad, despite last week’s injury.
Rovers coach Tony Smith will select from the 17 who beat Leigh, plus Rowan Milnes, Muizz Mustapha, Will Tate and Jordan Abdull, who is back in contention after injury.
Hull KR: from Crooks, Minikin, Kenny-Dowall, Hall, Abdull, Vete, Parcell, Takairangi, Linnett, Litten, King, Storton, Dagger, Lewis, Keyes, Milnes, Maher, Johnson, Mustapha, Tate, Keinhorst.
Castleford Tigers: from Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Richardson, McShane, Holmes, Milner, Massey, Griffin, Foster, O’Neill, Hepi, Clare, Sene-Lefao, Smith, Matagi, Turner, Bienek, Peachey, O’Brien.
Referee: James Child (Dewsbury).
Kick-off: Sa\turday, 7.45pm.