Hull FC coach Lee Radford admits his side face a challenge to switch their focus from the euphoria of Challenge Cup semi-final glory as their quest for the treble turns back to league form tonight.
The Black and Whites booked their spot at Wembley via victory against Wigan last weekend, but they look to increase their lead at the top of Super League tonight with a win against Castleford in the opening round of the Super 8s.
And Radford insists that while he is not trying to pour cold water on the feel-good factor surrounding making Wembley, he is interested to see how his side adjust their focus to league form once again.
“There is obviously excitement with how results have gone,” he said. “After making the final the last thing you should do as a coach is dampen that down, but the challenge now for us is a new competition at a different point in the season.
“Performances are the acid test. Everyone has had a spring in their step at training but the real measure of them will be how they turn up and perform tonight.
“It’s a challenge to keep the momentum going. With the eights format now things start fresh for us.”
Radford also admitted that the prospect of making his team for the cup final should help bring the best out of his squad – with Curtis Naughton set for a chance to impress tonight of Fetuli Talanoa misses out due to illness.
“There are players vying for a spot in a Challenge Cup final that don’t want to miss out. That’s keeping everyone hungry.”
“Fetuli has a bit of sickness so we’ll give him as long as we can. We’ll see how he rolls up tomorrow but if he’s not any good, Curtis will probably jump in there.
“It would be a great opportunity for him and that’s the same for many players in the squad. Everyone is vying for a Challenge Cup final spot. Nobody wants to miss out on selection for that.”
And despite their position in the table and seemingly slim chance of the top four, Radford is wary of a “dangerous” Castleford Tigers side on Friday.
“Playing Castleford will be a tough test. It’s two evenly matches teams going up against each other,” he said.
“They have already beaten us once and they should have edged us out the last time we played. I felt we got lucky that day. It will be a difficult encounter.
“We have to try and make them come from their own end as much as we possibly can. They’re a very dangerous side with set pieces. If you invite them up your end of the field then they will put points on the board.
“They started better than us at their place and got out of the blocks quick. The beginning of the game will be huge and it’s key we negate their efforts.”