'It's a joke': Castleford Tigers stalwart Adam Milner blasts fixture pile-up ahead of Salford clash
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The race for the play-offs is boiling into a thrilling finish with Tigers sitting seventh, level on points with Salford and one behind Leeds, who travel to Catalans Dragons on Monday.
But Milner reckons the fixture pile-up means the quality of rugby will dip just when it should be reaching its peak.
“I think it’s a joke,” he said.
“To have a similar period over Easter is tough enough, but then to have to do it at the end of the season… you look through Super League and the number of injuries there are, clubs are scraping players together left, right and centre.
“It will be interesting to see what the outcome is, in terms of player welfare, at the end of this week and into the play-offs.
“The standard of rugby has probably dipped from the first game to now.
“As a sport we are wanting top-end performances and I think, at the back end of the year when players are going out there bumped and bruised, it is diluting the competition.”
On a personal note, Milner will be relatively fresh on Monday after sitting being banned for Tigers’ past two games.
“Prior to my suspension I was carrying a bit of a niggle with my foot,” he revealed.
“I guess the suspension sort of came at a good time for me.
“I was getting it jabbed and what not for games, but I’ve been able to rest it and the foot’s pretty much back to 100 per cent, so hopefully I can bring some freshness and plenty of intent.”
Tigers might need to win bth games to qualify for the play-off, but Milner said confidence is high after last Thursday’s 19-18 win at Warrington Wolves.
“To get in the six will be a good achievement,” he insisted.
“It’s a target we set at the start of the season and we’ll certainly be disappointed if we don’t make it.
“Though we are out of the six at the minute, we are playing the two teams above us so it is a great position to be in.
“We’re looking forward to playing at home [on Monday] in front of our crowd and hopefully they get behind us and spur us on and we can get the job done.
“Then come Saturday it’s a big local derby which is an exciting job to go at, so it is a big week for the club and if we get it right, we are in the six.”
Suaia Matagi is also available after a ban, but Kenny Edwards (concussion) and Gareth O’Brien (knee) both drop out of Tigers’ squad.
Castleford Tigers: from Olpherts, Mamo, Faraimo, Richardson, Watts, McShane, Lawler, Milner, Westerman, Massey, Griffin, Fonua, Sutcliffe, Smith, Eden, Matagi, Martin, Hall, Robb, Qareqare, Mellor.
Salford Red Devils: from Brierley, Sio, Watkins, Lafai, Burgess, Croft, Sneyd, Akauola, Ackers, Wright, Taylor, Vuniyayawa, Lannon, Atkin, Ormondroyd, Williams, Sarginson, Luckley, Cross, Gerrard, Dupree.
Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).
Kick-off: Monday, 3.30pm.