Castleford Tigers full of ‘special’ players, says Hardaker

Castleford's players Greg Minikin, Zak Hardaker and Mike McMeeken,celebrate the League Leaders Shield.
Castleford's players Greg Minikin, Zak Hardaker and Mike McMeeken,celebrate the League Leaders Shield.
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SPECIAL players do special things and full-back Zak Hardaker believes Castleford Tigers’ strength is having a team full of them.

Castleford, with the League Leaders’ Shield already in the trophy cabinet, appeared to be heading for a rare defeat when they trailed 12-6 at half-time of their Super 8s round four fixture at Huddersfield Giants.

They looked like a team with nothing to play for during a lackluster first half, but hit the accelerator to score three unanswered tries in a 22-minute spell after the resumption.

That set them on course for a 24-16 victory and Hardaker reflected: “We have got special players who can do special things and pull us out of a dark hole.

“There was a move when Galey [Luke Gale] gave it to Greg Eden, he was one-on-one with Jermaine McGillvary – a fellow England international – and skinned him.

“We have got the kind of players who can do that,” added Hardaker.

Hardaker reckons last Friday’s victory answered the critics who expected Castleford to fall away after securing top spot in the table with four games in hand.

“We are just fixed on getting as many wins as we can and making sure we play well,” he stressed. “We have got a home semi-final coming up which is huge for us.

“We want to keep going, that’s the big thing. Reporters have spoken about it, saying we’ve got nothing to play for, but internally last week’s game was huge for us

“Huddersfield have been going really well the last few weeks, they’ve probably been one of the most in-form teams, alongside ourselves.

“They are a dangerous side, they had a slim chance of making the top-four so it was quite a crucial game for them. We knew they were going to come out firing and they certainly did that.

“We weathered the storm a bit, though we didn’t end our sets as well as we’d have hoped.

“Half-time came at a good point for us, we got together and regrouped and talked about what we needed, then we started off the second half really, really well.

“I thought we controlled the second half quite well and it was a good win.”

Hardaker said Tigers will be going into this week’s derby at home to second-placed Leeds Rhinos, his former club, in “happy and confident” mood.

“Everyone wants to play well at this time of year and momentum is really important,” he said.

“Every team will be going for the win in every game, no-one will be easing up – especially us. We have got four huge – and difficult – games coming up and we will be going into each one trying to win.”