PAUL McSHANE has backed Castleford Tigers’ rookies to stand up tomorrow after Daryl Powell stuck to his promise to make wholesale changes for the game against St Helens.
It is their third match in just 10 days – less than two months after a similar fixture pile-up at Easter – and coach Powell warned he would “look after his players if the administrators won’t.”
He has duly left out Luke Gale, Zak Hardaker and Mike McMeeken, the England trio who also flew to Sydney to face Samoa last month, captain Michael Shenton and Grant Millington.
Youngsters Tuoyo Egodo, Kieran Gill, Luke Million and Jake Trueman are all pushing for a Super League debut while Jy Hitchcox is set for his first Castleford appearance of 2017.
With Adam Milner and Matt Cook sidelined after injuries in the win at Leigh, Andy Lynch and Alex Foster are likely to return while Joel Monaghan is recalled and Will Maher is set for only his second Tigers game this year.
Hooker McShane – one of six Castleford players named in the England elite performance squad this week – will play but can understand’s Powell’s viewpoint.
“It is a big ask especially when we’ve had a few lads who have gone to the other side of the world in that spell, too, to play for England,” he said.
“As players you want to play every match and you would.
“But further down the line you don’t want to find you have blown yourself out so early on.
“We’re not in a bad position at the moment and the lads are coming in fresh, hungry and hopefully ready to make statements and show Powelly they’re ready when needed.
“Although we are resting a few, likewise that does give our young guys and fringe players a real chance to put a marker down and show him what they can do.”
Super League leaders Castleford have won all their home games so far this term including a 53-10 Challenge Cup rout of St Helens a fortnight ago.
However, their opponents have won both games since following the arrival of new coach Justin Holbrook, have England full-back Jonny Lomax returning tomorrow and have not played for nine days.
McShane, up against England rival James Roby, added: “He’s come in with some fresh ideas that are paying off for Saints.”