Will Luke Gale play – and make it through the game?
It’s potentially the biggest talking point of the entire run-in, let alone this one game. If Luke Gale is available – and he is fit – then Castleford are undoubtedly favourites. But will he get the nod from Daryl Powell to play just 16 days after appendix surgery? And if so, can he get through the full game and steer Castleford to Old Trafford?
Can the Tigers handle the play-off pressure?
It’s been mooted in some quarters that Daryl Powell’s side cannot handle the pressure of big knockout games – despite them putting the Saints to the sword in the Challenge Cup earlier this year. However, everything that has happened this season already has gone: and it’s time for the Tigers to show that they belong on the big stage tonight, you suspect.
Will Ben Barba thrive on the big stage once again?
There’s little doubting that if St Helens are the ones celebrating come 10pm on Thursday night, Ben Barba will have had a huge say in proceedings. He’s got gradually better since making his debut for the Saints earlier this month, and having shown so many times in the past he belongs in the big games, expect Barba to be at his very best once again tonight.
Is Paul McShane v James Roby the biggest battle on the pitch?
There are intriguing individual match-ups all over the pitch tonight – but the hooking battle between Paul McShane and James Roby feels like the biggest one of all. McShane and Roby have both been hugely influential in getting their sides to this stage – the winner of that duel tonight could be celebrating come full-time and walking out at Old Trafford next Saturday.