Castleford Tigers players have one last chance to press their claims for a place in the team for the opening Super League game when the final pre-season warm-up takes place at Bradford Bulls tomorrow night.
The game at the Provident Stadium has been brought forward to Friday night, with an 8pm kick-off, because of fears of wet weather and will see the Tigers field a mix and match side involving first team players head coach Daryl Powell feels will benefit from one more outing before the real stuff begins the week after - along with the best of the under 19s.
Cas fielded a full strength side for the warm-up against Wakefield last Sunday and Powell was delighted with the performance that brought a 32-6 win.
He was also pleased that no-one picked up an injury, giving him plenty of options on who to include at Bradford.
He said: “I will have a look at it through the week before finalising the team.
“Obviously it’s just over a week to our first Super League game against Hull KR and that’s the priority so I’ll make a decision on the team based on what I saw against Wakefield and what I think is the right thing leading into the Hull KR game.”
Powell continues to be happy with the way pre-season is going and was encouraged by the display against Wakefield.
He said: “It was really pleasing. Defensively we were excellent and our ability to contain Wakefield deep was outstanding. It’s certainly set a platform for us defensively.
“Some of our play I was pretty happy with. It was tough conditions, quite heavy, but we showed a lot of patience.
“We didn’t always get quite what we wanted, but we finished with some smart kicks. We finished our first 11 sets, which obviously applied a fair bit of pressure to the opposition. We ended up scoring our points later on, which sometimes happens when you win the traditional battle, which I thought we did pretty well in the first half.”
Castleford looked sharper than the Wildcats and closer to being ready for the start of the season proper as they showed the benefits of their week’s warm weather training – a luxury not afforded the Wakefield team.
But Cas boss Powell also believes it indicated that the players had put in some hard work before the trip to Lanzarote.
He added: “It helps that we went to a warm weather training camp and it was great to go to a different environment.
“The players loved it. We reviewed it and spoke about what we got out of it. You get a whole heap out of it.
“The boys had done a lot of quality work before we went out there, so it was just the cherry on top really.
“It’s a reward for all the hard work and, having said that, there was a lot of hard work out there as well.
“I think the players have shown they have a real belief. It’s not just the camp, it’s the way they go about their work at the moment. It’s exceptional.”