Salford Red Devils v Castleford Tigers - Daryl Powell's tribute to Nathan Massey and Oliver Holmes ahead of milestone match
Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell has paid tribute to pack stalwarts Nathan Massey and Oliver Holmes, who will both reach a major milestone on Friday.
The game at Salford Red Devils is Nathan Massey’s 250th for Tigers and fellow forward Oliver Holmes’ 200th in Betfred Super League.
Powell reckons the long-serving pair have been among Tigers’ best players so far this year and wants to make it a night to remember.
“He has been phenomenal,” Powell said of Massey.
“Through his career he has been fantastic for Castleford, he is a top-quality fella and as a player he has been tough, he has been one of our best front-rowers - if not our best - this season so far.
“Olly is our top three or four players this season, he has been outstanding and I am pleased for both of them.
“We want to make it a good day for them.
“These milestones are important for us and we want to make sure the players enjoy them when they come around."
Tigers are also looking to get back on track in Super League after Wigan Warriors inflicted their first defeat of the season, last week.
Castleford meet Salford again a week on Saturday in a Challenge Cup quarter-final at Leeds’ Emerald Headingley, but Powell insisted: “I think you have got to separate them and take each one on its merits.”
He stressed: “We want to make sure we get it right over the two weeks.
“Everybody has their own different philosophy on it, but we need to win them both - that’s the important thing.
“It’s about getting it right over both games.”
Powell warned: “Salford’s form has picked up a bit, they had a good win last week so they’ll be confident, but for us it’s just about playing well.
“We need to improve significantly on last week, particularly defensively, so there’s some challenges for us.
“We know where Salford will come at us and our boys are ready for that.
“We’ve prepared well.
“Last week was a tough game and we could potentially have got something out of that game, though I don’t think we deserved to.
“It was a close game and I don’t think we played great.
“We are looking for some big improvements from ourselves and if we play well we know we’ve got a good side here, regardless of whether we’ve got a couple of injuries or not.”
Tigers have lost Jordan Turner (groin) from the side which lost to Wigan and Tyla Hepi begins a two-match ban.
But Danny Richardson and Gareth O’Brien are both named in the initial squad after injury, Jesse Sene-Lefao returns from a ban, Lewis Peachey - back following a loan spell at York City Knights - is in contention and Sam Hall is also included.
Powell is hopeful Dan Smith will be available next week, along with George Griffin - who is in Friday's squad.
Jacques O’Neill is “three or four weeks away”, Alex Foster could be out for another six weeks and Suaia Matagi is facing three more weeks on the casualty list.
Despite Tigers’ injury worries, Powell is not looking at the loan market.
“We’ve got some good young players coming through who we want to have a look at, so Lewis Peachey and Brad Martin will potentially get opportunities to show what they’re about,” he said.
“Lewis Bienek has played a couple of games and we’ve got young Sam Hall who hasn’t played yet, so we don’t need loans.”
Salford Red Devils: from Ackers, Addy, Atkin, Brown, Burke, Escare, Greenwood, Ikahihifo, Inu, Johnson, Kear, Livett, Lolohea, Lussick, Mossop, Ormondroyd, Pauli, Roberts, Sio, Watkins, Williams.
Castleford Tigers; from Evalds, Olpherts, Mata’utia, Shenton, Trueman, Richardson, Watts, McShane, Millington, Holmes, Blair, Milner, Massey, Griffin, Sene-Lefao, Eden, Bienek, Peachey, Martin, Hall, O’Brien.
Referee: Robert Hicks (Oldham).
Kick-off: Friday, 7.45pm.