Craig Lingard on drawing Wigan Warriors in Challenge Cup and why Leeds Rhinos are a “strange” Super League side

CASTLEFORD TIGERS fans will have been filled with dread at the news last night that they had drawn reigning Super League champions Wigan Warriors in the Challenge Cup Quarter-Final.

The Warriors have already beaten Castleford at The Jungle in the 2024 season, but the former will have to travel to the latter once more on the weekend of 13/14 April in the last eight of rugby league’s most prestigious competition.

For Castleford head coach Craig Lingard, it is the “most difficult” tie on paper.

“Being drawn at home – that’s the main thing. We didn’t want to go away against Wigan two games on the bounce,” Lingard said.

“The bonus for us it’s at home. It doesn’t change anything about the fixtures but it’s strange how things like that happen.

“It’s still a tough game it’s probably the most difficult task on paper with Wigan playing as they are doing, but at least it’s a home tie for us.”

That tie against Wigan will currently be put on the backburner with a fixture against Leeds Rhinos taking place in the Super League on Thursday night.

Lingard, on speaking about Rohan Smith’s side, has labelled them “strange” given the Rhinos’ ability to attack from everywhere.

“They have got threats everywhere, they are dangerous. They are a strange team to preview, they seem to play different in every game they play but they have got threats wherever they are on the park,” Lingard continued.

“The number of times we have seen them score 90 metre-tries this year, it is a consistent theme of their game. One thing you can say about Leeds is they are a consistent threat from anywhere.

“You don’t know what they are going to do, they like the trick plays, they kick from shape everywhere across the park. Leeds will try and find you switching off so we have worked on staying alive every single play.”

The Tigers, of course, grabbed their first win of the 2024 season last week against Batley, and Lingard believes that the squad this week is one of the strongest he has been able to put out as Castleford boss.

“It’s good that you get that first win, it takes that monkey off your back albeit in the Challenge Cup. It gives us that bit of confidence that the hard work we are trying to do and the lessons we are learning are getting there slowly but surely.

“It’s going to be a slow burner and a project but we have proved we can win a game and hopefully we can take that confidence into a more difficult tie against Leeds.

“Our squad situation changed week on week with people getting injured. We have had one ban this season but people have been injured as we’ve still got ten on the sidelines.

“But, this squad we have got this week, is potentially the strongest one we have been able to put out this season.

“We have all our experienced players back which certainly helps in terms of integrating the more inexperienced players into our squad.”

Click here to purchase a digital edition of League Express.

Click here to purchase an online edition of League Express through

Click here to listen to our new League Express Podcast.

League Express is widely available from local newsagents across the north of England.