Castleford boss pleased to have ‘breathing space’

Grant Millington takes on Widnes players in Castleford Tigers' game last Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe
Grant Millington takes on Widnes players in Castleford Tigers' game last Sunday. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

After having his reservations initially when the fixtures came out Daryl Powell now reckons a week without a game is just what the doctor ordered for his Castleford Tigers team.

The Tigers were left without a fixture when initial plans for a World Club Challenge Series match – for which Castleford had qualified by finishing top of the Super League table – fell apart because of a lack of interest from Australian clubs.

It is far from ideal to play the first two fixtures then have a two-week gap, but after the stuttering start to the season made by the Tigers they believe they can use the time wisely to take a breather and be fresh and ready for the campaign’s restart, which comes on Saturday week against big rivals Hull FC.

Head coach Powell said: “I’m not a big fan of the World Club Challenge stopping the season by a week, but at the moment it’ll give us a bit of breathing space.

“I’m looking forward to this next two weeks. We’ve got to chill out a bit and relax and it’ll come for us.

“Every year is different and everybody is expecting the same as last year. We’ve got to find our fluency and the way we want to play.

“We just need to relax a little bit and I’d like to think our speccies will relax a little bit and give us a little bit of time in the knowledge that we’re working our backsides off to be as good as we can be.”

Powell admitted that after the poor start at St Helens his players had looked nervous as they missed several opportunities to kill off Widnes before eventually scraping home 13-12.

He explained: “We needed to win and in some ways that’s why we looked nervous at times,

“We trained with a great attitude all week. Obviously it was a tough week for us because we’re not used to the standard that we put out there (at St Helens).

“The whole place is a bit nervous about us and that doesn’t help either.

“I’m not blaming anyone for that, but I think everybody expects us to be on this journey of winning every week and this is a different journey, this is a different season.

“We’re going to have to find something else and we did.

“We couldn’t be all singing, all dancing – we can’t at the moment, the conditions are tough. We’re still trying to find our fluency. We’ve just got to chill out with that. It’s not going to be like it was last year.”

Powell was pleased that his side found a way to win to earn their first two points of the Betfred Super League season and also encouraged by some aspects of the performance in difficult conditions.

He added: “It was a tight game. It looked like we had got ourselves some breathing space with the drop-goal, but they were pretty tricky with their kick-offs all day, whether it was drop-outs or kick-offs, and they got the ball back.

“They were dangerous and you’ve got to fight hard to win the ball back off them.

“I watched Widnes last week and I thought they were excellent against Catalans. They caused us some trouble, but I thought we defended really well. Our attitude was good.

“We’re getting repeat sets, I think we’re getting more than we ever have. Take last week out of it – and we didn’t get much right there – but the Leeds game and against Widnes it’s been a big plus for us.

“It was pretty hard going on that pitch, it was pretty heavy.

“I heard some wag from the stands shouting about studs, and I’m pretty big on studs to be honest, but that takes a boot. It was tough to play on.

“We’re training and playing on tough pitches at the moment so it’s difficult to play at the sort of speed we like to play.”