Powell hits back at critics suggesting he’s fielding weakened team on Friday

Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell has laughed off criticism from some quarters suggesting he is deliberately fielding a weakened team on Friday night – saying he couldn’t care less what anyone outside of the club thinks.

Powell has left out big names such as Michael Shenton, Zak Hardaker and Grant Millington for Friday night, with squad players such as Joel Monaghan, Kevin Larroyer and even the debuting Tuoyo Egodo.

But with a semi-final just days away and the prospect of playing three games in just 12 days, Powell has defended his right to rest his senior players for a clash which could have huge ramifications on who they play in the play-offs next week.

“It doesn’t bother me one iota,” he said, when asked about those complaining about his picks.

“It’s about what is important for us. If you look at the game against Wigan on the Sunday, we’ve then got matches Friday and Thursday which is three games in 12 days – that’s tough.

“We’ve got a lot of weight put on a certain group of players and I need to make sure that next week, everyone is ready.

“We’re going to finish top by the biggest winning margin in the Super League era, so that’s an awesome achievement.

After winning at reigning champions Wigan last week without senior half-back pairing Ben Roberts and Luke Gale, Powell also insisted that he backs his newly-rotated squad to put in a performance against the Black and Whites on Friday night, despite the absence of so many big names.

He said: “We’re not discounting Friday’s game but we’ve a huge game the week after; I need to make sure we get both performances right. We had both halves missing last week but still won the game, and these boys are good players.

“I expect them to compete massively with Hull.”