CASTLEFORD Tigers coach Daryl Powell believes the expectation levels around his team have grown “ridiculously” in 2014 but he still expects them to deliver in tonight’s play-off.
They have morphed from a side that came 12th last term to one that has now finished just two points behind leaders St Helens – who they visit this evening – and reached Wembley.
Castleford could have taken the League Leaders’ Shield if not for a disappointing 28-6 loss in Perpignan last Saturday but Powell maintains, whatever happens next, it’s a campaign to cherish.
Asked what will be key in their biggest play-off since moving to within 80 minutes of Old Trafford in 1999, he said: “Just getting away from the expectation that has grown ridiculously really.
“Those levels have raised pretty wildly but we’ve done a great job and we need to put that behind us now, get rid of all that and focus on this fresh challenge.
“As the season’s gone on we’ve started to believe in ourselves a little bit more and you play 27 rounds to get into this position to be in the top-eight play-offs.
“To finish fourth is an outstanding achievement but this is a whole new competition now.
“We have to recognise all the positive things we’ve done and make sure we draw on that to improve and step up further.
“We need to do that. Some of the teams in the play-offs have gone up 15 to 20 per cent recently and we now have to do that, too.”
Castleford were 24-6 up against Saints at half-time at Wheldon Road in April only to concede three tries in the final 12 minutes to lose 30-28.
Powell said: “If that had gone the other way there’d be a slightly different league ladder but it’s history and can’t help us now.
“We have to be motivated for different reasons and I’m sure we will. I think they’ll be ready.”
Australian winger Justin Carney is still not fit so Castleford could be unchanged.