'Uppercut after uppercut but we keep coming forward': Why Lee Radford's proud of injury-hit Castleford Tigers
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Despite having lost Nathan Massey, Jake Trueman, Ryan Hampshire and Niall Evalds to season-ending injuries, Tigers are fifth in Betfred Super League and will move to within a point of the top four if they beat visitors Wakefield Trinity on Friday.
Gareth O’Brien and Alex Mellor suffered concussion in last week’s win at Hull, so Cain Robb, Jason Qareqare and potential debutant Kieran Hudson have been recalled from loan at Whitehaven and are included in a 20-man squad.
Liam Watts is available following suspension and Brad Martin retains his place in the initial group after not being selected last week.
“I am not enjoying managing it, but I am definitely enjoying the response,” Radford said of Tigers’ injury crisis.
“It is one upper cut after another and we just seem to keep coming forward.
“That’s credit to the group and a fantastic trait to have as a rugby league side.
“I am really proud and pleased about that.”
Radford feels adversity is bringing the best out of his team.
“I hope we can hang on to the desperation we are showing at the moment and have been showing for the past six or seven games,” he added.
“I think there’s been a real coming together of the squad over this period, but there’s some real big games in front of us.
“This one is big because it’s a derby, then we’ve got St Helens, Catalans and Huddersfield.
“We are playing three of the top four sides and a team that’s going to be absolutely desperate this weekend.
“Our fixtures coming up are really important, but we aren’t looking any further than this one.”
Radford is a veteran of Leeds-Bradford derbies as a player and the Hull-Hull KR rivalry, both on the pitch and as coach.
Games between Castleford and Wakefield are “different in terms of the size and scale of it, but just as important to get the result”, he reckons.
Radford said: “It’s a team that’s desperate not to get relegated and a team that’s desperate to really make a push for the top four.
“It is important our desperation is higher than theirs.”