Leeds Rhinos v Castleford Tigers: Daryl Powell targets derby win at Headingley to begin Super League play-offs push
Six wins are needed from their final eight games for Castleford Tigers to sneak into the Betfred Super League play-offs, boss Daryl Powell reckons.
That challenge begins away to Leeds Rhinos today and Powell insists a facial injury suffered by captain Michael Shenton will give Tigers extra incentive for a top-six finish.
Shenton was hurt during Tigers’ home defeat by Huddersfield Giants four days ago, which left them eighth in the table.
The long-serving centre is out of contract at the end of this season and no official announcement has been made about his future.
“He got a really bad injury,” Powell said.
“We will have to wait and see how he recovers to see if he can play again this season, but hopefully he can.
“He has got fractures in his cheekbone and his jaw and teeth are numb.
“It was a pretty significant knock to the head - accidental.
“It looks bad, like a four-six week injury.”
Powell stressed: “He has been a champion player for this club in particular.
“He has been immense and I think we all owe Shenny the opportunity to play again.
“To do that we have got to go past six weeks and get into the top-six.
“That’s a decent challenge, but I think we’ve just got to attack it with real positivity, enjoy it and see where it takes us.
“I think Michael Shenton has to be one of the reasons why we go after this and give everything we’ve got to make it happen.”
Of what that will take, Powell predicted: “You don’t know how many games you’ve got left or who you’re playing from week to week.
“But on the face of it we’ve got eight games left and I think we need to win six.
“It is a challenge, but we need to get above 50 per cent [wins] and that will give us a chance.”
Covid victim Liam Watts is also unavailable tonight and Jake Trueman misses out owing to a problem he has been struggling with since last season.
“Truey has got a serious issue with his back that may require surgery,” Powell confirmed.
“We are just going through that process at the moment.
“It has taken a long time to come to an understanding of exactly what’s happening to his back and I think we are at that point now.”
The good news for Tigers is the possible return of 11 players - Peter Mata’utia, Danny Richardson, Grant Millington, Oliver Holmes, Adam Milner, Tyla Hepi, James Clare, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Greg Eden, Jordan Turner and Gareth O’Brien - following the club’s coronavirus outbreak.
Powell said: “We are looking forward to it.
“Headingley is a great place to play and it’s a good opportunity for us to get back to playing well, with some of our strongest players on the field.
“We are going to have to do something really strong and positive to get into the six so we are focused on that.”
Rhinos won 60-6 when the teams met at the Jungle in May, but tonight will be their third game in nine days.
“I think they’ve been going well,” Powell noted
“They are having to shuffle around a bit, but they have good depth and probably the best young players in the comp’ right now, I’d say.
“They are always able to fill the team and squad up with good quality players.
“They will be difficult to beat, they are at home. They’ve played quite a few games in a short space of time, but we’ve just got to go and play well and be right on top of our game.”
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