Powell has faith in squad
Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell is confident his side will be able to maintain their focus when they take on Warrington Wolves in a First Utility Super League top-five clash at the Halliwell Jones Stadium tomorrow.
The match was seen as a potential dress rehearsal for next Saturday's Tetley’s Challenge Cup final when it was re-arranged for live television coverage but the teams will go into it in contrasting moods following last weekend's semi-finals.
The Wolves have only a first Grand Final triumph to pursue following their loss to Leeds Rhinos while the Tigers remain on course for what would be a remarkable double after dismantling Widnes Vikings to clinch their first visit to Wembley for 22 years.
Warrington coach Tony Smith, whose side are two points behind the fourth-placed Tigers, largely keeps faith with the team that lost against the Rhinos but, not surprisingly, Powell is opting to rest many of his big guns ahead of their trip to the capital.
Powell has rotated his large squad all season in an effort to keep all his players fit and fresh for the business end and sees no reason why an under-strength line-up, boosted by the return from suspension of second rower Weller Hauraki, should not maintain their challenge for a first top-four finish in Super League.
"We've got a good squad," Powell said. "We need to deliver an outstanding performance. It is going to be a tough game; we recognise that. They will be pretty highly motivated because they got rattled a bit last week.
"Whoever has been in the squad this year has done a great job. We'll go there with plenty of confidence."
Powell is adamant his side can avoid a repeat of the Cup hangover they suffered when going down 46-6 at Wigan Warriors in June, a week after beating the same opposition in the semi-finals.
"We had a slight break in our drinks ban at the weekend and had a couple of beers but that was it," he said. "We haven't won anything yet, although it's a great opportunity for us.
"We're expecting the boys to be fully focused and go there and perform."
St Helens will be looking to get their bid for the league leaders' shield back on track when they host Wakefield Trinity Wildcats tomorrow.
Saints sorely missed injured playmakers Luke Walsh, Lance Hohaia, Jon Wilkin and Jonny Lomax when they slipped to a 19-12 defeat at lowly Hull FC a fortnight ago but coach Nathan Brown used the week off to work on ways to overcome their absence by re-assessing his half-back options.
"To be honest, the break has been beneficial for us as we've had some good training days," Brown said. "We have lost a number of players in key positions so we've had to look at the way we play.
"We have made some adjustments to what we are doing. What we have in place suits the people we have and we are expecting an improved performance on the Hull game.
"We feel that some of the things we have put in place will help the people we have in those positions. The guys seem to have bought into it and if we turn up this week with a good attitude we will give ourselves a good shot."
In tomorrow’s other game, Salford Red Devils will be aiming to keep alive their slender play-off hopes when they host Catalan Dragons.
The Red Devils lost ground on their top-eight rivals after going down 45-4 to Wigan in their last match but coach Iestyn Harris has spent much of the time since then working on the physical aspects of the game as they prepare to take on a formidable pack.
The Catalans welcome back forwards Olivier Elima and Ben Garcia from injury as well as centre Vincent Duport from suspension, while Harris hopes to have New Zealand full-back Kevin Locke back for his third appearance for the club.