Daryl Powell turns to Jacques O’Neill to reinvigorate Castleford Tigers against Leeds Rhinos

CASTLEFORD Tigers head coach Daryl Powell is under no illusions as to how pivotal the next eight days are for his side’s season.

Jacques O’Neill: Back from injury to line up for Castleford Tigers in the West Yorkshire derby with Leeds Rhinos tonight. (Picture: SWPix.com)

They host Leeds Rhinos tonight eager to ensure they do not slip to a third successive Super League loss – especially given they face Warrington Wolves in the Challenge Cup semi-final next Saturday.

Rhinos have endured a torrid start to the year but Powell knows they have their strengths.

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“It will be a tough challenge,” he said.

Castleford Tigers' Jacques O'Neill. (Picture: SWPix.com)

“Physicality-wise their starting pack in particular is pretty fearsome so our boys need to be on.

“We’ve got a couple of big weeks starting with this one against Leeds.

“It’s an important game. We need to really stiffen ourselves up and get some flow to our attacking game. Both are important. We need to build a little bit of form and confidence.

“I don’t think we’ve really played that great this year.

“We’ve done some good things and we started the season well, but we’ve been rattled by injuries.”

They were missing a dozen first-teamers in Saturday’s 38-14 loss at Warrington when a makeshift side did compete well for an hour.

Powell confirmed Jacques O’Neill, their aggressive young loose forward, will return from injury tonight so he should aid that bid to get on top of a Leeds pack that sees hulking prop Mikolaj Oledzki in terrific form.

He said: “It’s good to see Jacques back. He’s had a little bit of time on the sideline. He’s obviously built up a bit of a reputation the way he plays and this is a good opportunity for him to get out there and get going again.

“We’ve Liam Watts and Cheyse Blair back, too, as well as Greg Eden.”

Loose forward Adam Milner was injured on Saturday while full-back Niall Evalds pulled out of that game with a sore calf.

Neither are included tonight but Powell hopes to see both back in action when they bid to reach Wembley.

He said: “Adz has a bit of an ankle (injury).

“He came off early last week, went back on and then rolled it again.

“I think he will be okay next week, but we’ll see. Niall was named in the 21 last week, but pulled up sore.

“Hopefully he will be okay, but the way injuries are going for us at the moment, I’ll do a bit of praying this week, I think,” quipped Powell.

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