McCormack aims to atone for past grand failures

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The Independent Online

It is sometimes called the Million Pound Match, but for the two coaches involved victory in tomorrow's National League 1 Grand Final would be priceless.

Castleford or Widnes will claim the Super League place that has been their target all season – and for Widnes' Steve McCormack for a lot longer than that.

McCormack has lost three Grand Finals – two with Whitehaven and one with Widnes – so another stumble would be difficult to bear. "It's something I try not to think about, but I get reminded about it all the time," he said. "It really has no bearing on what's going to happen at Headingley."

A crowd of over 20,000 will see a full-strength Widnes, now that Aaron Summers is fit, but Castleford will start as clear favourites after showing the better form in the latter stages of the season and winning well when the two sides met last month.

"People have said that we might have peaked a little too early, but I don't think so," McCormack said. "Sunday will tell us."

Victory for Castleford would vindicate the decision made by their coach, Terry Matterson, in the aftermath of last year's relegation from Super League.

Matterson's first instinct was to go home to Australia. "I'd never even considered relegation, so I was in a state of confusion," he said.

Eventually, he opted to try to bring Cas back at the first attempt. "The key to it all was keeping our best young players," he said. The Tigers succeeded in that, with 18-year-old back-rower, Joe Westerman winning the divisional young player of the year award this week.

In the NL2 final, earlier in a packed Headingley programme, Oldham and Featherstone, two historic names in the code, vie to regain a little of their old glory.