Castleford face half-back crisis

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CASTLEFORD Tigers face the prospect of being without half backs Rangi Chase, Danny Orr and Jamie Ellis for Sunday’s home Super League derby clash against Wakefield Wildcats.

The Tigers were without injured Chase and Ellis for last Friday’s game at Wigan and lost captain Orr before half time with a leg injury.

Tigers head coach Ian Millward (pictured) told the Express: “Rangi went in for his operation on Wednesday on his knee and it is difficult to say when he will be back.

“We don’t want to put a date on it because there are only four more games this year.

“Jamie Ellis hasn’t run with us for two weeks and I’d be pleasantly surprised if he was able to play. Taking Danny Orr off immediately at Wigan gives him a slim chance of making it on Sunday but it will be touch and go.”

Millward was proud of his depleted side’s battling display in a 40-16 defeat against leaders Wigan.

Castleford’s resources in the backs were stretched to breaking point when Chase, Ellis and Griffin all pulled out on the day of the game through injury and illness.

Millward said: “Our attitude has been really good in recent weeks. We have been up against, in my opinion, the two best sides in the competition in the last two weeks, and although both results have been losses, I’ve been really pleased by the way the boys have stood up in adversity.

“There was no Chase, no Ellis or Orr for large parts in Friday’s game and that left us plugging gaps in the side which is in no way ideal when you are going to a side like Wigan. I thought Steve Snitch was outstanding for 80 minutes in the centre, considering he’s not played there in years and Adam Milner, the young hooker, has taken on greater responsibility in recent weeks which is pleasing.

“It was 16-6 in the first half until the very last seconds and if you look at the second half it was 28-16 until they scored their two late tries. At 28-16 we made a few breaks, had some opportunities and had we scored at that point things could have been different.

“There are a lot of positives. We’re playing with a smile on our face because we can see good things are happening in terms of individual performance.”

Looking ahead to Sunday’s clash against Wakefield, Millward was impressed by the Wildcats’ performance in beating 38-18 Leeds on Monday and acknowledges that the visitors, who boast a near full strength side, will start the game as favorites.

The Tigers will hope to make home advantage count in the third competitive game between the sides this season. Castleford won the opener 34-16 at Wakefield in April and the Wildcat came out on top 32-26 at the Magic Weekend in Manchester the following month.

“Wakefield come to us on the back of two really good wins over Huddersfield and Leeds and they will be buoyant and full of confidence,” said Millward.

“Those kind of results breed confidence. We’re taking this game very seriously. We’re aware that it is a game that means a huge amount to both sets of supporters and we will be doing all we can to win.

“It is not often in sport where a side has injuries to all of its half backs so we’ll need the crowd to be on our side from the very start. Wakefield are at full strength but if we show the same will to win and desire as we have against Wigan and Warrington I don’t see why we can’t win.

“In my experience at Saints and Wigan, you don’t need to be worrying about what team you have out as form goes out of the window. Fans play a massive part in the outcome. We need to out sing, and be more passionate than the Wakefield fans, then the players can feed off that atmosphere. Don’t worry about it, we’re turning up to win.”

Tigers chief excecutive Steve Ferres is urging fans to treat Sunday’s derby clash as “family ocasion.”

He wants supporters to leave the ‘tribal warfare’ to the players rather than let emotions spill onto the terraces.

Ferres said: “It is important that everyone attending Sunday’s game treats it as the family occasion it is.

“Cas and Wakefield derbies are always thrilling, passionate and exciting matches and we are aiming for a capacity crowd which always makes for an electric atmosphere.

“Wakefield’s victory over Leeds on Monday night was hard earned and they will come into the match as deserved favourites. I would urge all fans to respect our family game, get behind their respective teams and prove to all what fantastic supporters our game has.”