SUPER LEAGUE stalwart Andy Lynch is set to go full circle in the 500th game of his career.
The Castleford Tigers front-rower is poised to reach the milestone at the Jungle tomorrow and he said: “It is funny how it has come round – it is Warrington this week and I made my debut against Warrington.
“We lost 19-14 at Wilderspool so hopefully this one will be a bit different.”
Lynch has played 222 games in two spells with Castleford (1999-2004/2014-present) and was previously with Hull (59 games, 2012-2013) and Bradford Bulls (204 games, 2005-2011). He has also represented Great Britain (one Test, 2007), England (five games, 2004-2005), England ‘A’ (seven games, 2002-2003) and Yorkshire (one game, 2003).
“When I first signed at Cas, when I was 15, people were saying ‘play until you are 30, do what you can because when you’re 30 you’re finished’,” he recalled. “Luckily at 37 I am still going strong.”
Lynch is also closing in on Kevin Sinfield’s record of 454 Super League appearances. He added: “I’m eight away and there’s probably 16 games to play this year, including semi-finals and the Grand Final so there’s plenty to work at there.
“But we’ve just got to keep taking one game at a time and I suppose it’s the same for me. I am one of those people who can’t look too far ahead.
“The way we are going at the moment is outstanding. We’ve still got a lot of hard work to do, defensively and with the ball, so it’s exciting times.”
Tigers are on a high after last Sunday’s 16-12 victory over St Helens, which extended their winning run to seven games. They were without a host of key players, rested or due to injury and were playing for the third time in 10 days.
“I don’t think anybody gave us a chance before the game,” Lynch reflected. “We stuck together as a team. That’s what Powelly [coach Daryl Powell] has been doing for the last few years. We’ve got a bigger and deeper squad and that paid off. People knew at the start of the year we had a big squad and a quality squad and Sunday showed that.”
When I first signed at Cas, when I was 15, people were saying ‘play until you are 30, do what you can because when you’re 30 you’re finished’. Luckily at 37 I am still going strong.Castleford Tigers’ Andy Lynch
That lifted Tigers four points clear at the top of Betfred Super League, but Lynch warned: “Everybody is going to want to improve their game when they play us because we are leading at the moment.
“It is going to be hard work, but it is a challenge we are up for. Touch wood, so far injuries have been good to us and hopefully that continues and we keep performing well and don’t have a dip.”
Warrington, last year’s league leaders and Challenge Cup and Grand Final runners up, have slumped to third from bottom, but Lynch predicted: “If Warrington turn up, from one to 17 they are a dangerous side.
“You can never write them off. It is going to be a challenge for us. They will come here confident that if they put a performance in they can get the two points, but it’s down to us to work hard, work for each other and stop that happening.”
Zak Hardkaker, Michael Shenton, Luke Gale and Grant Millington are set to return after being rested last week and Adam Milner is available following injury. Jake Webster, Kieran Gill and Jake Trueman drop out.
Warrington’s Matty Russell (knee) and Ryan Atkins (foot) miss out after being hurt in the 44-4 defeat at Huddersfield Giants last week. Former Castleford man Daryl Clark is available after suspension and Matty Blythe, Will Dagger and George King could come into the 17.
Castleford Tigers (from): Eden, Foster, Hardaker, Hitchcox, T Holmes, Gale, Larroyer, Lynch, Massey, McMeeken, McShane, Millington, Milner, Minikin, Moors, Monaghan, Roberts, Sene-Lefao, Shenton.
Warrington Wolves (from): Blythe, Brown, Clark, Cooper, Dagger, Dwyer, Hill, Hughes, Jullien, G King, Lineham, Patton, Penny, Philbin, Ratchford, Sevelio, Sims, Smith, Westerman.
Referee: James Child (Batley).
Kick-off: Tomorrow, 3.30pm.