Castleford Tigers ready for 'massive' Super League encounter at Hull KR says drop goal king Gareth O'Brien

It may be only round three, but Castleford Tigers pivot Gareth O’Brien admits Friday's game at Hull KR is “massive” for both teams.
Gareth O'Brien, right, says Tigers will pick themselves up from last week's defeat at Warrington. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.Gareth O'Brien, right, says Tigers will pick themselves up from last week's defeat at Warrington. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.
Gareth O'Brien, right, says Tigers will pick themselves up from last week's defeat at Warrington. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

Neither picked up a win from the opening two Betfred Super League rounds and – even at this early stage – O’Brien reckons whoever loses will have a lot of catching up to do.

“We are fully aware of how big this game is,” O’Brien – who will partner Jake Trueman in the halves in place of the injured Danny Richardson – insisted.

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“Nought from three doesn’t look too pretty to start the year and I am sure they will be saying the same thing in their camp.

Suaia Matagi could return for Tigers after not playing against Warrington. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.Suaia Matagi could return for Tigers after not playing against Warrington. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.
Suaia Matagi could return for Tigers after not playing against Warrington. Picture by Will Palmer/SWpix.com.

“It is a massive game for both teams and we’ve been training as hard as we can this week to work on what we need to so we can put things right and get a result.”

Tigers slipped up at home to Salford Red Devils in round one and were beaten by hosts Warrington Wolves last week.

They have a new-look team and coach Lee Radford will take charge for only the third time, but O’Brien stressed: “There’s no excuse for how we’ve performed and the results we’ve come up with in the last couple of games.

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“There’s positives that have come out of each game, but we’ve just been not quite there.

Gareth O'Brien will play in the halves alongside Jake Trueman, seen scoring against Warrington last week. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.Gareth O'Brien will play in the halves alongside Jake Trueman, seen scoring against Warrington last week. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.
Gareth O'Brien will play in the halves alongside Jake Trueman, seen scoring against Warrington last week. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com.

“We had a lot of time to work on combinations through pre-season, we all know each other’s game and we’ve just got to execute it now.”

Outlining those positives, O’Brien said: “We’ve had no problems coming out of yardage and making metres.

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“It’s just the last little bit and that comes down to me as a half-back and the spine players coming up with better decisions.

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“We are strong defensively and if we attack how we know we can, I am sure we will cause KR some problems.”

Of the way Tigers have begun the season, O’Brien conceded: “We are bitterly disappointed with our start.

“We need to stick together and we are looking to get off the mark this week against a very dangerous Hull KR team who are also looking for their first win.

“It is going to be a real test, it always is going to Hull KR, but we are looking to get our season rolling.”

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Famously, O’Brien kicked the 99th-minute golden point drop goal when Tigers won a pulsating Challenge Cup tie at Hull KR last April.

Four years earlier, his similar effort in golden point extra-time kept Salford in Super League at the Robins’ expense.

“That’s usually how it has gone at Hull KR recently, but hopefully we’re not relying on a drop goal to win this one,” O’Brien said.

“If it comes down to it and we need one, I’ll put my hand up to slot one over, but hopefully it’s not that close this time.”

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Tigers are without Jake Mamo (concussion), Kenny Edwards (calf injury) and George Lawler (suspended) from the team which lost at Warrington.Nathan Massey could make his first appearance of the season and Tyla Hepi, Greg Eden, Suaia Matagi, Brad Martin, Sam Hall and Cain Robb could also come into the 17.

Rovers are again without star full-back Lachlan Coote and Jimmy Keinhorst drops out from the side which lost at Huddersfield Giants last Saturday.

Matty Storton, Elliot Minchella, Ethan Ryan, Will Tate and Phoenix Lalu-Togaga’e are in the squad after not featuring last week.

Hull KR: from Takairangi, Kenny-Dowall, Hall, Abdull, Parcell, King, Hadley, Linnett, Storton, Litten, Sims, Minchella, Dagger, Lewis, Ryan, Wood, Richards, Garratt, Halton, Tate, Laulu-Togaga’e.

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Castleford Tigers: from Evalds, Olpherts, Turner, Faraimo, Trueman, Watts, McShane, Westerman, Massey, Griffin, Fonua, Hepi, Sutcliffe, Smith, Eden, Blair, Matagi, Martin, Hall, O’Brien, Robb.

Referee: Liam Moore (Wigan).

Kick-off: Friday, 8pm.

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