Warrington Wolves v Castleford Tigers – Cheyse Blair set on helping Tigers pull off major surprises

IT says something about the misfortune Cheyse Blair has suffered at times during his career that the Castleford Tigers centre only tonight, at the age of 27, manages to mark his 100th career game.

AMBITIOUS: Castleford Tigers' Cheyse Blair. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

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Castleford Tigers head behind enemy lines in search of Super League glory

Whether through injury or lack of opportunities, his first-grade life in the NRL spluttered for a while and he has certainly had to fight tooth and nail to get to this milestone.

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Even when the former Australian Schoolboys international – he played alongside current Castleford team-mate Jordan Rankin – reached the summit back home, he endured bad luck.

AMBITIOUS: Castleford Tigers' Cheyse Blair. Picture: Jonathan Gawthorpe

Blair played when Melbourne Storm lost the 2016 Grand Final to Cronulla Sharks but was injured when they did eventually prosper 12 months later.

That was then, though, and this is now when he is ready to write himself firmly into Castleford folklore.

Granted, Tigers are no Melbourne; whereas the Storm have won three Premierships and three World Club Challenges since their inauguration just over 20 years ago, the West Yorkshire club – around since 1926 – are still searching for their first league title.

Castleford Tigers' head coach, Daryl Powell. Picture: Bruce Rollinson

Blair, who arrived on a three-year deal from Storm in May, is looking to put that right as they embark on their play-off adventure at Warrington Wolves this evening.

“I’m looking forward to this a lot,” he said, as Castleford bid to create a shock and march all the way from fifth.

“Obviously it’s a different sort of game; the games all get a lot higher (in intensity) and we’ve got a tough one in Warrington away.

“No one will be putting a bet on us to win this thing (Super League) but it would be the best thing ever to come from fifth, travel to Lancashire four weeks in a row and do just that.

“That’s something that we’d be very proud of. Going forward, it would be something we’d always tell our families – just how big a deal that would be.”

Castleford – League Leaders in 2017 when beaten by Leeds Rhinos in their solitary Grand Final appearance – only managed to narrowly scrape into the play-offs in fifth ahead of Hull FC.

However, they have shown flashes of being able to compete with the best this term and will hope more of those occur at the Halliwell Jones Stadium tonight.

Furthermore, their opponents finished fourth but are in wretched form, losing seven of their last eight league fixtures, even if they did have Wembley success amid that miserable sequence.

Castleford defeated them 
27-18 at Wheldon Road in July but Cheyse remains wary.

“Finals footy is a different sort of game,” he said. “They (Warrington) rise to the big games –they won the Challenge Cup – and these are all big games now for the next four weeks.

“We have a difficult task on our hands and some quality players to face.

“I’m looking forward to it.”

The rangy former Manly Sea Eagles player, who started out at Parramatta Eels, has every reason to; he has found his best form yet in Castleford colours and even started scoring tries.

Blair – who has switched from right to left centre in recent weeks – crossed for the first time in the win against Hull FC and then made it two in two when he scored after the final hooter in Friday’s 26-8 loss at Wigan Warriors.

“It’s taken a while,” he conceded, having debuted in the 26-14 loss against Warrington in May.

“I’d played the first 14 games and didn’t score.

“The boys were getting into me about how if I didn’t score I’d be doing the nude run on Mad Monday.

“But I got one two weeks ago and another on the weekend, so hopefully they can keep coming now.”

And Mad Monday will be delayed for another three weeks.