Daryl Powell takes charge of his hometown club for the first time in France this afternoon. The newly appointed Castleford coach takes them to the Catalan Dragons looking for a result to get his reign off to an optimistic start.
Cas are one of three clubs bracketed together on seven points at the foot of the Super League table, but Powell has set them the ambitious target of making the top eight and the play-offs.
The former Featherstone coach, brought in to replace the sacked Ian Millward, believes that having the previous weekend off for the Challenge Cup could be the Tigers’ launch-pad.
“The players have been in this week and they have been fantastic,” he said. “They have looked good, sharp and fresh.”
For his first squad, Powell, who has been replaced at Featherstone by John Bastian, has recalled Grant Millington and Charlie Martin, in place of Weller Hauraki and Tyrone McCarthy, while Jake Webster is out for the season following a knee operation.
The Dragons have Super League’s oldest player, the 39-year-old Steve Menzies, back in harness after a four-match absence with a broken finger.
The league leaders, Wigan, with both their first choice half-backs injured, will give 18-year-old George Williams his Super League debut at the London Broncos, alongside the 20-year-old Sam Powell.
The Wigan coach, Shaun Wane, has also said that another teenager, Jason Robinson’s son, Lewis Tierney, could be in line for a debut soon. The former Wigan player, Chris Melling, is among the Broncos’ injured absentees.
In tomorrow’s game, Wakefield’s full-back, Richie Mathers, could make his comeback after suffering a ruptured testicle, in the side to play at Hull KR, who hope to welcome back Kris Welham.
Leeds, who are at home to St Helens in the first of this season’s televised Monday night games, could be without two of their stalwarts for up to eight weeks. Carl Ablett has a broken bone in his hand and Jamie Peacock has a knee injury.
The Rhinos are already without Stevie Ward and Ben Jones-Bishop, while Brett Delaney is also unlikely to be fit in time to face Saints, whose coach, Nathan Brown, has admitted that he is in the market for prop forwards and half-backs to strengthen a squad that is currently running an uninspiring eighth in the table.