Castleford Tigers will be without skipper Michael Shenton for their last league game of the year, but head coach Daryl Powell aims to take a strong side to St Helens tomorrow night.
Although the Tigers will finish third and Saints top no matter what the result there will be no resting of players from the Castleford side as they want to take the momentum they have been building with five straight victories into their play-off semi-final.
Shenton will be missing after picking up a knee injury in last Friday’s win over Wakefield and will have a week off in a bid to be fit for the massive semi-final at Wigan next week. Any other players with knocks are unlikely to feature, but the game still has importance for Powell.
He said: “I don’t think we’ll be resting anyone now. We want to maintain some consistency and performance.
“Shenny’s had a scan and he won’t play Friday but hopefully he’ll be okay. We’ll have to wait and see. He’s just having treatment at the moment.
“We have some players who need to play more minutes. Obviously I’ll manage people from a minutes point of view, particularly Joe Wardle who is just coming back into the team. But overall we want to keep a real good feel about ourselves.
“St Helens have been the best side all year. They’ll feel really confident at home in the semi against Warrington while, for us, it’s just about making sure our combinations are really solid and we get Galey another game under his belt.
“We are looking forward to the semi-final, but obviously we know this will be a tough game, too.”
St Helens will be hoping to avoid the Grand Final slip-up that befell the Tigers last year following a similarly runaway league win.
“They handled the League Leaders’ presentation a little bit differently than we did. I thought it was a fair achievement and we wanted to celebrate it,” said Powell.
“They’ve gone about it a bit differently so you can see they are focused – as we were – on winning the Grand Final. But whether they can do that or not, there’s a couple of really tough games for them to get through.
“They have a good side haven’t they? And they don’t have many injuries and have been pretty consistent all year.
“They have Peyroux back now and I’m presuming they’ll have Roby and McCarthy-Scarsbrook to go back into that and Kyle Amor who didn’t play last week so they’ll be strong.”
Tomorrow’s game could see exciting young English half-backs going up against each other with Jake Trueman for Cas and Danny Richardson for Saints and Powell has been impressed with both players.
He added: “He’s playing with a lot of confidence isn’t he (Richardson)? His kicking game’s great, his goal kicking is really good and he’s working well in combination with a really consistent team.
“They’ve been able to pretty much pick the same team all year if they’ve wanted to. That consistency really helps.
“Truey’s had to fit in and around all sorts of injuries with us and he’s done remarkably well.”