Castleford refuse to rest stars for testing Batley trip

Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell. Picture James Hardisty.
Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell. Picture James Hardisty.
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IT shows the respect Daryl Powell has for Batley Bulldogs that the Castleford Tigers coach is reluctant to make any significant changes for tomorrow’s Tetley’s Challenge Cup tie.

In-form Castleford face a taxing top-of-the-table Super League encounter with leaders St Helens at Wheldon Road on Friday.

It would, therefore, be understandable if the ex-Great Britain international felt tempted to rest some of his principal players against the Championship part-timers.

However, Powell insisted: “I won’t be messing about too much. It’s not the game to do that.

“Batley are a good side who have pushed Huddersfield close in the cup twice in the last three years. We don’t want to come unstuck and be in that same position.

“We need to get this right as it’s a pretty important game for us and these sorts of fixtures can get you, if you’re not right on the money.”

Castleford’s players are certainly well rested in readiness to do that having been given four days off following their last game, a 54-6 destruction of London Broncos a week last Thursday.

Powell makes just four alterations to his 19-man squad for Batley, last season’s beaten Championship Grand Finalists, who he knows well from his own time with Featherstone Rovers.

“You can pick an easier game,” he said. “I’ve been there many times with Fev and it’s always been a really tough battle.

“They’ve lost few players from last season but John Kear will have that team well motivated – he’s shown that with his own Challenge Cup history – and it’s probably the most difficult pitch to play on in rugby league.

“Having had experience there myself – and Liam Finn as well, plus Jamie Ellis – means we have some benefits but still we recognise it’s going to be tough.

“We’ve a very professional bunch and I’m confident we will go in with the right attitude.”

Forwards Grant Millington, Craig Huby – who misses his first match in two years – and Daryl Clark are rested but, otherwise, Powell has a strong squad.