Castleford Tigers boss Daryl Powell is backing his squad to respond to their unlucky defeat to St Helens by rising to the challenge of the big Easter double-header.
There is no let up in big games for Cas as they face a local derby at Wakefield today followed by a home game against Warrington on Monday that will again test their top four credentials.
But as tough as the short turn round will be the Tigers head coach reckons his players are ready for the challenge.
Powell told the Express: “We’ve had one short turn round already with a Sunday-Thursday and I thought we handled that pretty well. We need to do the same again and the boys are looking forward to the challenge.
“We’ll get stuck into it. You’ll not hear us complaining about Easter. We know it’s there, we know what it’s all about, we’ve got a tough group of players and we’ll get on with the challenge.
“Again it’s about us showing that what we’re about this year is something that’s not going to go away.
“But when you have games like this with short turn rounds it challenges you mentally and physically and challenges your squad depth as well. It will be interesting to see how many boxes we can tick this Easter period.”
Powell intends to put his much talked about squad depth to full use over the two games to come, but he will be without full-back Luke Dorn.
He said: “Luke Dorn’s got a hamstring strain and he’ll be missing over Easter. The likelihood is that he has got a three or four week injury there, which is disappointing as he’s been playing well.
“I’ve got a couple of options at full-back. James Clare has played there previously and Jordan Tansey is back after suspension. Elsewhere, Ashley Gibson is available and will play in one of the games.
“I need to make sure that we make full use of our resources. It’s common sense to use the squad as best as we possibly can to get the best out of the group over the Easter period.
“We’ve five or six players who didn’t play against St Helens who can slot in there.”
The first of the Tigers’ opponents, Wakefield Wildcats, have struggled at times this season, but Powell is expecting a typical full blooded derby.
He said: “The biggest thing about the game is that it’s a local derby.
“The fans are massively enthusiastic on derby days and that makes for a great atmosphere.
“The players definitely buy into the local derby feel and it’s going to be a tough game.
“Wakefield have had a tough period recently, but that just gives them motivation to move on and they’ll come up with a performance against us that will be flat out.
“They will be looking forward to the challenge so we’ve just got to focus on doing our own job and making sure we play well.
“We’re feeling confident about ourselves at the moment, but we know we’ve got to play well.
“We responded superbly the last time we had a loss against Salford so that’s what I’ll be looking for again. A response from the players and to play the way we want to play.
“That’s shown that it’s been a decent formula for us so far and we’ll look to do that again.”
Powell is also expecting a major test on Monday when Warrington Wolves come to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
He added: “Warrington have not been quite as good as they have been in recent years, but they’ve got a big squad full of talented players and we’ll need to play exceptionally well.
“Physically they are one of the best sides in the competition, they have more quick play the balls than anyone else in Super League so they will be a real challenge for us.”