Lee Radford says Castleford Tigers’ focus remains firmly on securing a top-six finish in the Betfred Super League and they can move a step closer to achieving that goal by beating Huddersfield Giants at the John Smith’s Stadium on Thursday night (Huddersfield 8/15, Castleford 17/10, Tie 20/1 – Match Winner).
The Tigers (16/1 Grand Final Winner) will head to the home of their West Yorkshire rivals sitting fifth in the standings following last week’s gutsy 18-8 win over Catalans Dragons, but their place in the playoffs remains far from guaranteed given the form of the two sides directly below them in the standings, Leeds Rhinos and Salford Red Devils.
With four rounds of matches still to be played between now and the end of the regular season on September 3, it remains to be seen which sides will secure top-six berths, but for Radford the objectives have never changed.
“I want to be in the (top) six,” the 43-year-old, who took over as Cas coach ahead of the 2022 Betfred Super League season, told reporters. “I’ve said it since day one.
“Anything can happen when you get in the six because you start a new competition and it’s knockout footy.
“If we make that six, I’ll be over the moon. The higher in the six we can get obviously the better. My focus on day one and still today is making the six.”
Injuries have disrupted Castleford’s season and their cause has not been helped by the suspensions picked up by Adam Milner and Suaia Matagi during the victory over Catalans – they will both miss Thursday’s contest.
The news is better regarding centre Jordan Turner, who is back in the fold after four months out with a shoulder injury, while Jake Mamo and Cheyse Blair have also recovered from concussion issues.
Huddersfield (12/1 Grand Final Winner) head into the fixture sitting third in the standings, but their playoff place is still not guaranteed after defeat to Salford last time out.
The Giants also have selection concerns, as second-row Josh Jones misses out with a groin injury, while Jack Ashworth and Will Pryce are both suspended.
Coach Ian Watson will have Ricky Leutele available. The experienced centre, who will leave Huddersfield at the end of the season, is back following two months on the sidelines with a knee injury.