The Castleford coach, Terry Matterson, hopes a two-week lay-off has refreshed a side who have slid into relegation danger after seeming to have done enough to be safe.
The Tigers go into this evening's home match against Harlequins on a run of four defeats, but also after a blank weekend that has enabled them to get injured players fit. The winger Luke Dyer and two forwards, Danny Sculthorpe and Richard Fletcher, are all expected to be available, greatly expanding the coach's selection options.
"We definitely needed the weekend off," admitted Matterson, a trenchant critic of the concept of relegation. "We've a lot of bodies back on board. On Monday it was the first time we've had a full team training for about six weeks, which was a real positive."
Castleford have also been boosted by the decision of their former Leeds prop Danny Ward to stay for at least another season. Next year's squad, in fact, are already looking strong, with internationals like Awen Guttenbeil and Shaun Timmins confirmed weeks ago, but all that planning could be pointless if Castleford finish behind Wigan, Huddersfield and Wakefield and slip back into National League One.
Harlequins are not quite clear of relegation themselves, although they have been looking optimistically at their even slimmer chance of making a late run into the play-offs. Their coach, Brian McDermott, recalls Zeb Luisi, the influential Mark McLinden and the former Castleford winger Jon Wells.
Tomorrow, Huddersfield will try to shake off their Challenge Cup final hangover with a game against Salford they need to win to banish their own relegation fears. The cup-tied Kevin Brown will be back, but probably not Keith Mason, who missed the defeat by St Helens at Twickenham with a hamstring injury.
Hull, at home to the last-placed but relegation-exempt Catalans Dragons, should tighten their grip on second in the other Super League game. They are expected to announce the signing of Wigan's Wayne Godwin for next season.
In National League One, Hull's neighbours, Hull KR, can make certain of first place if they avoid defeat at Batley.
Down the table, Halifax's financial crisis is such that they are selling club memorabilia, including shirts, balls and even trophies, on eBay. The club, in the Super League three years ago, have warned that unless a shortfall of £90,000 is addressed they could go out of business on 11 September.Reuse content