Places in the 17-man squad for next week’s Wembley final are up for grabs as Castleford Tigers’ cup heroes return to action in the First Utility Super League at Warrington Wolves tomorrow night.
Head coach Daryl Powell is set to make changes and rest several of his big players ahead of the Tetley’s Challenge Cup final, but expects his team to challenge their top four rivals and says there is plenty at stake.
He told the Express: “It’s a chance for some players to put their case for a place in the final line-up.
“Obviously a large chunk of the team have been playing outstandingly well this year and a large part of the team is selected. But there are still some places up for grabs whether it’s for Wembley or for the rest of the campaign.
“We’ve potential to be in the top four and potential to be playing in a grand final so we’re going to need all hands on deck to be able to do that.
“I will make changes to the team for this week’s game. We’ve got some players who are fighting hard to get in the team, people like Michael Channing, who’s coming back from injury, and Jordan Tansey, who hasn’t played for a while. There’s a couple of young players who will potentially get an opportunity, but we’ll still have a pretty strong side out.”
Powell hopes his team can cope with a potential backlash from Warrington after the Wolves’ cup semi-final defeat. They will also be desperate for revenge after being well beaten at Castleford earlier in the season.
He added: “It’s going to be a significant game before we play at Wembley and we’ve got to go there and put up a big challenge. We’ve got to be professional enough to go there and really get stuck into Warrington. I think we will be.
“They are right behind us in the league, two points behind. The points difference is in our favour at the moment, but it’s not an insurmountable one.
“It’s something we need to be mindful of and we need to play to our potential.
“Whether we were going to be at Wembley or not it was always going to be a tough game.
“They got rattled last week and were beaten by Leeds. It was a disappointment for them, for us it’s been the other side of the coin, of course.
“The motivation you would think lies in their corner and we’ve got to make sure we get ourselves up for it.
“We were way too good for them at home in the second game over Easter. We were superb that day, but they will respond, they’ve got better as the season’s gone on.
“They’ll be disappointed with their first half effort last week, but in the second half they showed what they were about and are a very dangerous side.