Powell’s team will return to the field tonight, for the first time since their Challenge Cup final loss to St Helens 16 days ago, when they face Huddersfield Giants at Wheldon Road.
With a recent coronavirus outbreak still casting a shadow, Powell has been able to name only a 19-man squad, including three players – Jimmy Keinhorst of Hull KR and Featherstone Rovers duo Jake Sweeting and Loui McConnell – on short-term loan. The coach expects to be able to name a stronger side when Castleford visit Leeds Rhinos on Friday, but admits this is proving a “really tough season logistically” for all clubs.
He also fears the quality of the sport will be diluted if more fixtures, previously postponed because of Covid, are crammed into the final two months of the campaign.
Adding to the uncertainty, it is still unclear if the World Cup, due to begin in October, will go ahead.
That decision will have an impact on the clubs’ pre-season and the potential start date for Super League in 2022.
There is also a possibility, if the tournament is cancelled or postponed, the domestic season could be extended, with Old Trafford hosting the Super League Grand Final, rather than World Cup decider, on November 27.
“There’s pressures from everywhere; from Covid, a back-up of games and having to play too many games anyway,” said Powell of the difficulties being faced by clubs across the competition.
“We’ve just got to try and come out of the season with the game’s integrity intact and then there’s clearly a smart decision needs to be made World Cup-wise and next season-wise, what that looks like.”
He warned: “We have to get next season right; obviously we’ve got to get this season right, but for the future of the sport we have got to get this season looking right.”
Most clubs now have a backlog of fixtures to fit in before the end of the regular campaign in the middle of next month.
The table will be decided on points percentage, to allow for the possibility of some matches not being fulfilled, but Powell is concerned a rush to play as many as possible will damage the quality of rugby on show.
“There’s a backlog of fixtures in August and September,” Powell said.
“If you are chasing games there and fitting them in, you are diluting this sport so badly.
“We have got to get the quality back and I think we’ve just got to be smart with what we do. We have got a game at Catalans to catch up and I don’t know where you put that.
“You are putting players into three- and four-day turnarounds again and it is going to be crazy,” he said.
“They need to get around the table and come up with something that can get quality back into the game and get the better players out on the field more consistently, because – clearly – it is pretty tough for everybody at the moment.”