ONE of the most intriguing questions of the Super League season could be answered tonight when Castleford Tigers face Salford Red Devils at Wheldon Road.
Marc Sneyd has been a revelation since joining Castleford on loan from Salford last autumn, as part of the the deal which took Rangi Chase the other way.
Sneyd’s performances have been a key component in Tigers’ push for a top-four place in Super League and their run to the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup.
In contrast, Chase has yet to capture the form which earned him the Man of Steel title two years ago and, despite their big spending, Salford are third from bottom in the table and still not mathematically safe from relegation.
This evening’s showdown, with the two stand-offs in direct opposition, will be an indication of which club got the better of the deal and Castleford coach Daryl Powell is wary of the risk Chase will pose to his team’s hopes of avoiding a third successive defeat.
Salford ended Castleford’s unbeaten start to the season three months ago and Powell said: “Rangi is an outstanding player and a massive threat. We need to deal with him a fair bit better than the last time we played them.
“He is a talented player and if you stand off him and allow him to dictate, you will be stood behind your posts a fair bit. It’s important we deal with him in the right way.”
Castleford are keen to keep Sneyd, who has already had a transfer request turned down by Salford’s management.
Salford now say he could remain at Tigers for the right price, but Powell stressed: “Marc can’t worry too much about what’s going on at Salford at the minute.
“He is a Castleford player at the moment and he has just got to get on with his job. He has been pretty efficient this year as a player. He has been pretty threatening and, hopefully, he can do the same again.”
Bradford Bulls scrum-half Luke Gale is expected to join Castleford next year but the Wheldon Road club are resigned to losing another play-maker, Jamie Ellis, to Huddersfield Giants.
Powell confirmed he is looking at bringing in at least one more half-back, though he has refused to identify any of his potential targets.
“We are looking around to see who is available and that will continue,” he said. “We will see where that takes us.”
London Broncos hooker Scott Moore and second-row Matt Cook and Featherstone Rovers prop Steve Crossley are also believed to be poised for a move to Castleford at the end of the season.
“There’s a few players we’ve spoken to,” added Powell. “We are close, but there’s a little bit of work to be done.”
Well-traveled front-row forward Gareth Ellis will make his Tigers debut this evening, on loan from Hull. Justin Carney has recovered from illness and will return on the wing in place of James Clare. Oliver Holmes has also dropped out from the team which lost at St Helens last week, with Adam Milner and Scott Wheeldon vying for a recall.