Powell defends rotation policy
Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell has defended his decision to send a weakened team to Warrington Wolves on Friday.
Powell will rest at least half-a-dozen members of his likely Wembley line-up a week before their Tetley’s Challenge Cup final showdown with Leeds Rhinos but insists that is a reflection of the strength of his squad as they seek to maintain their bid for the double.
Just 10 players from the team that beat Widnes Vikings 28-6 in Sunday's semi-final are named in Powell's 19-man squad for the First Utility Super League match at the Halliwell Jones Stadium.
Prop Craig Huby is forced out with a dislocated elbow but among the players being kept back for Wembley are skipper Michael Shenton, leading scorer Marc Sneyd, talismanic hooker Daryl Clark and full-back Luke Dorn, who was man of the match against the Vikings.
Powell has called up second rower Brad Day and prop Will Maher from the club's Under-19s team for what would be their Super League debuts, as well as 20-year-old full-back or stand-off Ben Reynolds, who has made just three substitute appearances so far.
Former Leeds second rower Weller Hauraki is back from suspension and there are recalls for Michael Channing, Adam Milner, Ashley Gibson and Jordan Tansey.
Warrington coach Tony Smith has made just one change to the side that lost their semi-final to Leeds, bringing in second rower James Laithwaite in place of winger Gene Ormsby, as he sets his sights on a third successive Grand Final appearance to offset the disappointment of their Cup exit.
Powell, who has one of the biggest squads in the league, is ringing the changes in the knowledge that clubs are no longer fined for fielding under-strength teams but also points to the consistency he has demonstrated all year in his attempts to keep his players fresh for the business end of the season.
He rested Liam Finn, Oliver Holmes and Justin Carney for the home game with Warrington on Easter Monday and a side that included debutant Gibson gained a 40-6 victory.
"It comes down to trusting your squad and the players that you've signed," said Powell, whose side are currently fourth in the table, just two points behind leaders St Helens. "We've shown this year that we can compete with anybody.
"I looked at the squad the last time we played Warrington here at Easter and we rested quite a lot of players. The guys who came in delivered and we were superb that day.
"I don't see it as a major problem to be honest. Obviously we've got to fight on both fronts but I also think you've got to be sensible in your team selections.
"We've done that throughout the year. We haven't played the same 17 all year. Everybody has had an opportunity to do the job.
"If we roll through to the end of the season and the boys in the main are still feeling pretty fresh, then I think we've done a good job with it."
Powell says he is close to knowing his likely team to take on the Rhinos in their first Wembley outing since 1992.
Australian winger Carney still has one game left to serve of his two-match ban but is highly likely to return in place of James Clare for the final while Powell has still not ruled out Huby, even though he seems certain to be sidelined.
"I'm pretty certain what the majority of the team is but there are a couple of positions in there," Powell added.
"We'll check on Craig Huby as we go through the week. He's had a scan but it's pretty heavily bruised. It's not a great injury but hopefully it's not too bad. We won't find out until late on next week I would think."
Huby, whose brilliant form this year earned him a call-up to the England training squad, has not given up hope of playing at Wembley.
He tweeted: "Had a scan yesterday, seeing the specialist tomoro (sic) as well, elbow is improving & got a great medical team to hopefully get me right."