Castleford Tigers prepare for huge Saints test

Weller Hauraki is stopped in his tracks during Castleford Tigers' game against Batley Bulldogs. The in-form back rower picked up a shoulder injury in the game. Picture: JOHN CLIFTON
Weller Hauraki is stopped in his tracks during Castleford Tigers' game against Batley Bulldogs. The in-form back rower picked up a shoulder injury in the game. Picture: JOHN CLIFTON
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They have passed all bar one of their tests so far, but Castleford Tigers are now set for their toughest examination with top spot in the Super League at stake in their home game with St Helens tomorrow night.

Tigers boss Daryl Powell has been impressed with St Helens and reckons their sheer size will present his side with problems they need to combat.

But the prospect of becoming the first team to beat Saints this season and a possibility of going top if they can win by nine points is a big spur for Cas and Powell hopes they can exploit any weaknesses they may find in the visitors’ game.

He said: “I think Saints have clearly been the best side this season so it’s a massive test.

“After this one we should know a fair bit more about ourselves. It’s certainly a big game for us.

“We can go top, but we just want to compete in every aspect of the game and to come out with the win would be enough for us.

“Every player is going to get tested. The physical challenge they present is bigger than any other in the competition so it’s going to be interesting to see how our middle unit match up.

“Walsh gives them a cutting edge in attack and his kicking game is pretty special. But I’ve watched quite a few of their games and there’s some areas we think we might be able to exploit. It’s a matter of us playing well, obviously we’ve got to defend well and apply some pressure to them.

“Leeds struggled to break them down so it’s a tough job, but I think we’ve been attacking particularly well this season and if we can apply our game we can cause them some trouble.”

Powell will check on the fitness of Jake Webster and in-form back rower Weller Hauraki, who suffered a shoulder injury in the cup win at Batley, before naming his team, but hopes to be close to full strength.

Scott Wheeldon was charged with a Grade A high tackle offence from the Batley tie, but took an early guilty plea to avoid a ban and is available as is fellow prop Ryan Boyle with both players coming through okay from their comeback game after injury last weekend.

Craig Huby, Daryl Clark and Grant Millington are set to return after being rested last weekend.

“We’re pretty much okay with injuries apart from Lee Gilmour who is definitely out,” explained Powell.

“He had a knee operation and got infected so he’s still coming back from that.

“He lost a lot of weight. He was on a drip for a week and they didn’t know what it was initially. It’s one of those things you can’t account for and it’s knocked him about a bit.

“He’s got some weight back now and he’s looking better, it’s just about getting him moving now. I couldn’t tell you when he’s going to be available.

“He’s going to need some time to get himself back training and get himself up to speed with the other players. Our back rowers are playing well so it’s a tough job to get in front of them.

“He had a shoulder/ nerve problem, which he’s worked exceptionally hard to get over so this is a big blow for him. But Lee’s been around a long time and I’m sure he’ll come back.”