Castleford are down to the bare bones in terms of players available for this weekend's Challenge Cup against Super League leaders St Helens. Instrumental half-back Luke Gale and his partner Ben Roberts were sidelined for the Tigers' last Super League match against Hull FC, as were Nathan Massey, Jake Webster, Greg Eden and James Clare whilst Garry Lo was released in the build-up to the fixture.

As such, when the Tigers took to the field against Hull, their back-line read like this: Jake Trueman, Greg Minikin, Alex Foster, Joe Wardle, Michael Shenton, Jamie Ellis and Paul McShane.

When Trueman left the field early in the first-half through injury, youngster Calum Turner moved to the wing with Shenton going full-back. Only one of Castleford's starting backs was in his preferred position - Jamie Ellis (although Greg Minikin has been a winger for Castleford over the past two seasons, his first position is centre).

Not only did Trueman succumb to injury, but so did Australian heavyweight Grant Millington - both within the opening 25 minutes - which left the Tigers with just two bench spots for 55 minutes. Yet, Castleford did it tough with injuries in 2016 and prevailed. Now, they can do the same in 2018.

Lessons from 2016

Castleford had 13 players out at one stage during the 2016 season, but they managed to string together five wins from their last seven games to end the Super 8s in fifth - one point in front of the Catalans Dragons despite being five points behind them when the table split.

At various points throughout that injury-hit season, the Tigers had the likes of prop forward Grant Millington playing in the halves and wing sensation Denny Solomona at full-back. Castleford came through the other side of this adversity and became a much more determined and spirited side because of it - the rewards of which were reaped in 2017.

Now, the Tigers are again in a pickle with regards to bodies sat in the stands and it will once more be testament to the quality of Daryl Powell's coaching to see the team come through the latest adversity. The spirit and togetherness between those players that took to the field when the Tigers were experiencing the worst of their injuries back in 2016 is still very much a part of the squad in 2018.

Because of this, Castleford will be no pushovers for St Helens on Saturday, despite them being written off already.

Home advantage

Castleford love playing at home; whether it's because of the vocal backing of the Castleford faithful or because the players know almost every inch of grass, the Tigers are incredibly tough to beat at home. The West Yorkshire side have lost just one from six at the Jungle and that loss was against Warrington when the pitch was akin to a lake. Though the Wolves definitely played the conditions better, that match probably would have been called off had the Tigers not already had two other games postponed. If Saints rock up expecting to put a big score on the Tigers then they may just get burnt.


Castleford's opening round hammering against St Helens set the tone for both side's seasons so far; Castleford's has been up and down whilst Saints' has been largely impressive. The Tigers' 46-6 defeat was one of the worst games they had played in years under Daryl Powell and the need to put that right will be heavily on the minds of the Castleford players going into this weekend.

It will be added motivation to turn over a red-hot Saints side when the Tigers have been written off by all and sundry before a ball has even been kicked. Powell will be forced to field a weakened team, yet this makes the Tigers dangerous; they essentially have nothing to lose and that is when they play their best Rugby.

When Castleford beat Salford this time two years ago in the same round of the Challenge Cup, Grant Millington and Paul McShane were the Tigers' half-backs.

At present, injuries are not as bad as they were in 2016, but the Tigers have not had a settled back-line for weeks. Powell is one of the best man-managers in Super League and he has his work cut out to inspire a victory over Saints. But, it's certainly not impossible and to write Castleford off already is foolish.