Castleford coach Daryl Powell has warned his players they should need no motivation for their run-in to their Super League semi-final later this month – with places in the team still up for grabs.
The Tigers face second-placed Leeds at home on Friday night knowing they will already finish top of the table by a comfortable margin and some wondering what their motivation may be for the final few games before the play-offs.
But Powell has warned his players that there are still spots in the side available for that home semi-final – so everyone should be on their game from hereon in.
He told TotalRL: “We’ve got a few weeks to fine-tune ourselves and we’re playing a team in Leeds who are all-but certain to finish second, so it’s the start of a difficult run for us.
“The challenging side of it for us, which I’ve been talking about for weeks, is competition for places and people wanting to be in the team when the real big games come around. You want to be in and around the team when the big games roll around and if you’re not motivated now, I’ll be checking for pulses, I think.”
Powell has also hinted that he will make few changes to his side for the remaining three games – which sees the Tigers face tough opposition in Leeds, Hull and Wigan.
However, the Tigers coach believes that is great preparation for a do-or-die semi-final later this month.
“Motivationally for us, that Huddersfield game last week was the most difficult game, straight after winning the League Leaders’ Shield,” he said.
“So having got that behind us and having now got a game under our belt, this is a massive run-in. These three teams are teams we could meet in the play-offs or even a Grand Final.”
Powell will bring Grant Millington and Mike McMeeken back into the mix for the game against the Rhinos – who Castleford have a proud record against in recent times.
He said: “Leeds are one of those teams you want to play against. Playing here for Leeds was always difficult because it’s a big local derby.
“It’s the perception of a small-town club and the big city boys doing battle. We’ll be ready for this one – you can always see an excitement among the players when we play Leeds.”