Castleford coach Daryl Powell has expressed his belief that if they get there, his current squad would be in a better position to win a Wembley final than three years ago: after admitting the class of 2014 weren’t ready.
Powell’s league leaders switch their focus to the Challenge Cup this weekend with a testing last 16 tie against St Helens: a game the Tigers coach is refusing to look beyond.
However, he spoke openly about how he feels the players he has at his disposal are more mature and ultimately better prepared to handle a final following defeat at Wembley three years ago to Leeds.
“For the players who went there, they enjoyed the experience but it was bittersweet,” he said.
“We lost the game and never looked like winning it, and emotionally I don’t think we were ready to win it at that point. As much as you tell your team they are, I think there’s a much more mature team and squad here now.
“If we got there this time, it would look a whole lot different, but there’s a lot of work to go into it to get there again. It’s a challenge for us and it’s a tough tie as I’ve said.”
Powell will pick a strong side for the visit of the Saints: but there are doubts over a number of players.
He said: “We’ll have some late calls. Rangi (Chase) injured his neck last week so we’ll have to check on him, Ben Roberts missed the game and he’ll be checked over, and Junior Moors probably shouldn’t have played last week with his back. There’s a few late-ish decisions in there but I’d expect all, if not two out of those three, to be okay for Saturday.”
However, Powell said all three of his returning England players – Zak Hardaker, Luke Gale and Mike McMeeken – will be available: but there is less positive news on Oliver Holmes.
“They’re all okay, I think there’s a bit of tiredness in there but we gave them until Wednesday off,” he said.
“Galey and Mike had a bit about them but they’re in decent nick and ready to play this weekend. Oli Holmes is going for a scan today on his knee; he’s struggling today with the pain and it’s difficult to find out what it is at the moment.”