Castleford winger Kirk Dixon says the occasion of a Challenge Cup semi final won’t be too big for the Tigers, who plan to feed off their experienced players to learn how to cope with the pressure.
The attacking West Yorkshire side take on Widnes on Sunday for a place at Wembley – their second semi-final appearance in four seasons. However, only two members of the squad that reached this point in 2011, when they were knocked out in heart-wrenching fashion by Leeds, remain. Dixon doesn’t see that as a problem.
“We have got players who have played in big games,” he told the Yorkshire Evening Post.
“Michael Shenton has played in Grand Finals for St Helens, Andy Lynch played at Wembley for Hull last year and Gaz Carvell has won the Challenge Cup.
“We can feed off them and there’s a couple of us who have been to the semis before, so we know what to expect.
“It is about playing the game and not the occasion and Daryl (Powell, Tigers’ coach) is great at that.
“All our focus will be on Widnes and he’ll try and keep everything else that’s going on away from us.
“It would be quite easy to get caught up in the whole atmosphere, but we have got to really concentrate on the 80 minutes.
“There’s a big prize at the end of it, but that’s exactly how Widnes will be looking at it as well. We need to really concentrate this week and make sure we leave no stone unturned.”
The 2011 semi-final, which was ended by an extra-time Kevin Sinfield drop-goal, was “tough to take”, Dixon said.
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“Hopefully we can learn from that, but we know it’s going to be a hard game on Sunday, against a quality Widnes side, who are in great form.
“They have had some great results and they beat Hull KR last week so they are coming into the game on the back of a win, just like we are.
“It is two teams that are in form and two teams that like to play rugby as well, so it all bodes for a great game, but from our point of view we are going to need 17 players to be at their best to go there and get the job done – because it is going to be some test.”