There is no shame in a pragmatic Castleford Tigers side admitting they hope Michael Dobson does not play for Hull KR tomorrow night.
The Australian scrum-half has been integral to Rovers for so long now that everyone knows just what influence he can impart on any game.
With Castleford looking for a first win in six, they realise their chances will increase dramatically if the ex-Super League Dream Team star fails to shake off a hamstring strain in time for the televised contest.
Dobson was included in Rovers’ 19-man squad yesterday, but the general consensus is their captain will be kept back for the Good Friday derby with Hull FC.
“It doesn’t change the way we approach the game,” said Tigers assistant Stuart Donlan, whose side has not prospered in east Hull since a 1993 Regal Trophy win. “Obviously it will be a plus for us if he doesn’t play because he’s their key organiser and everything goes through Michael.
“Some of the stats that we’ve looked up on him this week are quite unbelievable; the most kicks in Super League by a long way.
“If he didn’t play it would be a bit of a help to us, but we’re preparing as if he is going to play.
“There are areas we feel we can get to him. If he doesn’t play, I’m sure Travis Burns will step up.”
Rugby league is a pretty unforgiving sport, but there is genuine sympathy from many for Castleford when it comes to their daunting upcoming fixture schedule.
Ordinarily, organisers try to avoid clubs playing the Sunday before the busy schedule of Good Friday and Easter Monday.
However, largely due to wanting to avoid a clash with last night’s England World Cup qualifier against San Marino, broadcasters Sky ditched their usual Friday televised game and, instead, switched it to tomorrow night with Tigers and Hull KR the unfortunate ones to be involved.
To add to Castleford’s woe, they are also forced to play a week on Friday too after their home game with leaders Huddersfield Giants was brought forward to appease further television demands.
“It’s a tough ask to play four games in 13 days, but because of the size of the squad we’ve got it makes it that little bit tougher,” admitted Donlan.
At least Good Friday opponents Wakefield will be a little less fresh, given last night’s postponed game with Leeds was put back to tomorrow due to the weather.