Wigan v Castleford preview.
Shenton: We're ready for Wigan
Castleford captain Michael Shenton believes his side are ready to once more compete on the big stage as they prepare to take on Tetley's Challenge Cup holders Wigan on their own turf.
Shenton's team are above the Warriors in Super League after making an outstanding start to the season and beat the champions at home in March but, according to Wigan coach Shaun Wane, question marks remain over their ability to stay the course.
Shenton, whose impressive form has earned him a recall to the England squad, says victory over last year's double winners in Saturday afternoon's mouthwatering quarter-final at the DW Stadium would go a long way to answering those questions.
"It would probably be the biggest statement we could make," Shenton said. "They don't come much bigger.
"Wigan are a big-game team - they proved that last year - so we know we're up against it.
"It's a massive challenge but I think we've proved this year we can challenge most teams. We might not be the smartest at times but we try to learn lessons from the big games that we have played in.
"It's going to be a big challenge for us to see where we're at. I think we're ready."
The Tigers have every right to travel with confidence, having won on their last visit to the DW Stadium in 2013, but Wane stoked the fires ahead of the game by accusing them of "over-confidence bordering on disrespect".
"You hear stories coming out of Castleford since this draw was made and they're ultra-confident," Wane said at his weekly press conference.
"Good luck to them, we want them to come here really, really confident but we'll be trying our best ourselves.
"We'll see how they go at the end of the year and where they end up. But at the minute they're doing really really well. They are a very well coached team and they're really confident coming here - quite rightly so - they beat us at home and they're doing well in the competition."
Castleford coach Daryl Powell is too shrewd to be drawn into a war of words but makes no apology for sounding confident.
"I don't know where that comes from," Powell said. "There's been nothing said by anybody within our group. We are playing well and I think we should be confident but we know we've got a tough challenge on our hands, going away to Wigan.
"They are the holders, they won everything last year so we recognise it will be tough, but if you can't be confident in sport what chance do you have?
"Judging by Shaun's comments it is going to be feisty but we will just get on with it and deal with what we have to.
"Maybe he's just trying to fire his own players up. I think they will be fired up anyway so I don't see it as an issue. We have just got to focus on ourselves and do our job."
Castleford are still without leading tryscorer Justin Carney, who remains suspended, and centre Michael Channing is ruled out with a groin injury but prop Lee Jewitt is set to return after a back problem kept him out of last Sunday's win over Hull KR and Ashley Gibson and Liam Finn are also vying for a recall.
Wigan have Ben Flower, Dan Sarginson, Liam Farrell and Michael McIlorum returning from injury and, although he keeps youngster Dom Manfredi on the wing at the expense of a fit-again Josh Charnley, Wane is delighted to welcome back a host of experience.
"The players who have come in have played really well and we've had some good wins at Hull, Leeds and Salford but having that big-game experience is without doubt a big lift for us," he said.
If Castleford are seeking a lucky omen, they are the last team to beat Wigan at home in the Challenge Cup on their way to lifting the trophy in 1986, but Wane, who was in the team that lost 10-2 in that quarter-final at Central Park, says his team are determined to hang on to their crown.
He famously described last year's win over Hull as "the best day of my life" and has encouraged his players to wallow in that triumph this week.
"My players loved going to Wembley last year," he said. "They've had a few chats about that, about how good it was and the feelings we had that week, the build-up, the travel.
"Everything was good about it and we want that feeling again."