Castleford Tigers are set to field a strong side for their first pre-season test when they return to action at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle in a Christmas cracker with Featherstone Rovers on Sunday.
Although several senior players will sit this one out, Tigers boss Daryl Powell has vowed to field many of last season’s first team regulars alongside all of the new signings.
He will also give a number of youngsters an early chance to stake a claim for first team shirts and believes it will be a good mix for a game he is excited about.
He told the Express: “It will be a strongish team.
“Obviously we’ve got some players who’ve been injured and recovering from operation, Nathan Massey, Ryan Boyle, Andy Lynch and Frankie Mariano, who aren’t available. Luke Dorn has an ongoing problem that will keep him out of the game and Grant Millington, Michael Shenton and Luke Gale, who has obviously been on international duty, won’t play.
“But apart from that all the other first teamers will be in and all the new players will be playing so it will be good for fans to get a look at them.
“I think we’re about ready for a game. We’ve had six or seven real tough weeks and the players are ready to try some stuff out and see where they’re at physically.”
Powell is looking forward to seeing how some of his young players go alongside the more senior members of the side.
He said: “The young players who have been with us a while, Ash Robson, Will Maher, Brandon Westerman, Tom Holmes, will play and it will be good for them.
“There will be another couple of young boys, Dec Sheehan and Brandon Douglas, who will get a little bit of a hit out. It’s a good mix.
“Some of the young players coming through don’t get that much of an opportunity if the team’s going well so this is always a good chance for them to put themselves forward as being potential big players for the club in the future and good for the fans to see them.”
Powell is expecting a good test for his players from a Rovers side that will be keen to do well and is anticipating a competitive outing.
He added: “They are always good games between Castleford and Featherstone. Obviously I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I know they are keenly contested.
“Featherstone have got some good young players that I know from my time there so it should be a good game.
“Hopefully it will be well supported and a great atmosphere at the ground.
“It should good and I’m excited about the game.”