Castleford Tigers star Paul McShane is expecting a tough test on Friday when two of the Betfred Super League’s form teams go head to head at the Mend-A-Hose Jungle.
Daryl Powell’s men go into the game on the back of just one defeat in their last seven games while the visiting Huddersfield Giants boast seven wins from their last eight league matches.
Huddersfield will not be lacking confidence or motivation as victory would seal a top eight regular season finish for them and Cas hooker McShane says his team are gearing up for a big challenge.
He told the Express: “It will be a tough game. Huddersfield are playing well, they’ve got a bit of momentum behind them and the new coach has probably lifted all of them.
“They seem to be having a real dig and we have to match that if we want to keep that focus of getting into the top-two. We need to be right on our game.
“They’ve some smart players who know how to play the game. If you look at Broughy he’s been a Man of Steel winner. He’s had a few knocks this year, but he’s playing well, switching edges.
“I think Adam O’Brien doesn’t get the credit he deserves. He’s a real tough player, he gets stuck in and does all the little things well for them.
“If you looked at Huddersfield a month or two ago you probably wouldn’t have given them a chance of being in the top eight so what they’re doing at the minute is pretty special.
“If they finish in the top eight they will be a threat, they are going to be - and have been - taking points off the top six teams. They are no easy beat.”
Castleford go into Friday’s game off the back of a hard fought win at Salford when they had a fight on their hands before drawing clear in the second half.
“It was good win for us after the first half we had when Salford really got after us and we probably didn’t manage the weather as well as we could have,” said McShane.
“The second half was much improved.
“It was nice to play in some cooler air, but the conditions were tough and it’s always tough going to Salford with the atmosphere and things like that.
“For us it was a mentality thing we just needed to change and in the second half we did that
“We’ve not been as fluent as last year as we’ve had some key players in key positions missing and there’s been a lot of squad rotation and different combinations so that has taken effect. But we’re finding different ways to play and we’re still coming up with results.”
The win last week sealed the Tigers’ place in the regular season top four, giving them four home games and three away in the Super 8s.
“It’s massive for us to get that extra home fixture,” added McShane.
“It’s a big thing for us, there’s nothing better than playing here (at the Jungle) on a packed out Friday.
“We want to be known as a top four side and to be pushing to win things. To cement that after having a successful year last year is massive for us.
“Our focus is to get in the top two, but we know we can’t take our foot off the gas, especially as we are now coming up against a team in Huddersfield who are going to be desperate to keep in the eight and then up against Widnes who will be looking for a bit of form.
“It would be great to have another home game in the play-offs like last year when it was absolutely crazy out there.
“We’ve seen how much it means to the fans, staff and everybody to get to a Grand Final and that’s definitely the aim.”