Head coach Daryl Powell insists his depleted Castleford Tigers side can still secure a place in the Betfred Super League play-offs, as they prepare for Monday’s clash with Huddersfield Giants at the Jungle (Match betting – Castleford 7/2, Huddersfield 1/4, Tie 25/1).
Cas will be playing their first match since losing the Challenge Cup final to St Helens in the middle of last month and Powell has since seen his squad decimated by injury and a Covid outbreak.
That has led to the 56-year-old only being able to name a 19-man squad for the visit of Huddersfield, which includes the three emergency loan signings the club made at the end of last week, with Jimmy Keinhorst arriving from Hull KR and Jake Sweeting and Loui McConnell both coming in from Featherstone Rovers.
It is certainly not an ideal situation for the Tigers, who will also head into Monday’s fixture sitting outside the Betfred Super League play-off places, with the regular season due to reach a conclusion in the middle of next month.
The writing could therefore be on the wall for Cas (80/1 – to win Grand Final), but Powell, who will leave the club to take over the coaching reigns at Warrington Wolves at the end of the campaign, believes a top-six finish remains a realistic aim.
“There’s plenty of games left, we’ve got to believe that’s a realistic target and we’re not that far away,” Powell told reporters when asked about Castleford’s play-off hopes.
“It’s difficult to gauge with the percentages but we’ve just got to get ourselves playing well.”
Opponents Huddersfield snapped a six-game losing streak by virtue of their 40-26 victory over Hull FC last time out, but only two teams sit below Ian Watson’s side in the standings.
Watson will be hoping wing Jermaine McGillvary (7/1 – first try scorer), who claimed four tries against Hull, will once again be on top form, but the Giants also have a lengthy list of absentees, the latest being forward Josh Jones who is suspended.