Castleford coach Daryl Powell admits Sunday’s opponents Hull FC are “slight favourites, just” for their mouthwatering Challenge Cup quarter-final this weekend.
The reigning holders host the current Super League leaders in what is undoubtedly the tie of the last eight, with the victor just 80 minutes away from a trip to Wembley for the final.
Many, including Hull coach Lee Radford, have said Castleford are favourites for the game – but Powell disagrees: although he admits it’s a close-run thing.
He told TotalRL: “It’s a tough one to call. They’re the cup holders and they’re getting players back.
“They’re at home too; I don’t think there’s much in it but they’re slight favourites, but just. It’s as close to a 50-50 as you can get.”
Powell also admits his side have been preparing for a closely-contested encounter which will go right to the wire on Sunday afternoon – following their previous meeting which Hull won by just two despite playing with 12 men for an hour.
“Hull have been going well,” he said.
“They’re at home and they’re the cup holders so there’s lots riding on it because if you get beat, that’s it for the cup for another year. We’ll be keen to go there and play well and both sides are littered with high-quality players so it’ll be a tussle. It’s not about scoring loads of points it’s about coming on top in a tight game.
“Both teams are capable of playing outstanding rugby league. I think it’ll go down to the wire; we’re planning for that sort of scenario to transpire and we look forward to the challenge.”
Powell will be without in-form forward Junior Moors for both that game and a number of weeks, after the Castleford coach confirmed the 30-year-old will be absent for around 10 weeks with a knee injury.
However, Powell revealed he initially feared it would be a far more grim prognosis.
He said: “I was worried it was going to be a season-ender when I first found out about the injury but thankfully, it doesn’t look it is going to be now which is a relief in itself.
“It’ll be a bonus as we move towards the back end of the season and hopefully, if we’re involved in some big games, Junior will be available and he will be fresh. We’ll get him and Matt Cook back in and around the Super 8s.”