Challenge Cup final “always going to be in the back of our mind” admits Nathan Massey

Nathan Massey believes Castleford’s victory over Warrington in the Challenge Cup semi-final surprised almost everyone in the rugby league fraternity.

“We’re pretty upbeat; after our last three performances in the league, I don’t think anyone gave us a chance in the semi-final.

“We had a bit of faith and put in a performance that we know we can, but that’s probably the benchmark for us moving forward and we’ve got to back that up.”

Massey has called on the Tigers players to build up momentum ahead of the Challenge Cup final in July.

“It’s a tough one with the game coming round Thursday, but we had a few beers which was warranted from that performance.

“We’ve still got plenty to play for in the league so we’ve spoke about getting our league form back and build the game towards the Challenge Cup final.

“It’s always going to be in the back of our mind, but we need to start playing like we did in the early part of the season.

“We don’t want to be going into the final on the back of anymore losses – we’ve got a tough period going forward, but it will put us in good stead.

“We will have a couple of players back from injury like Grant Millington who will come back into the team and it brings out the best in the squad so hopefully come the final we will have a fully fit squad all raring to go, but we’ve got a long way to go.”

The Castleford prop believes the squad is much more capable of coping with the pressure this time around.

“We were speaking about 2014; it was the first trophy the club had had a chance of winning in a while and the occasion got to us.

“We were a young team and didn’t have much experience, but we have a lot more older heads now with me included – we’re hopeful we will handle the occasion better.”

Castleford host Hull at the Jungle on Thursday night, but the Tigers haven’t won at home since crowds returned which is something that Massey wants to put right.

“We’ve not done ourselves justice coming back here – we want to make this place a bit of a fortress but fingers crossed we can righten that tomorrow.

“Hull are a dangerous team and they will be hurting from their semi-final loss – they came back towards the end of the game and almost got there, but we know they have the league to play for.”

One player who Massey won’t be coming up against is Josh Griffin, who ruptured his Achilles tendon in Hull’s defeat to St Helens.

“I played with Josh here at Cas and he’s been the form centre in the competition and he would have been looking towards international honours at the ed of the year.

“He will be a bigger and better player coming back.”

Massey is also hoping that extra vigilance on the Tigers’ part will ensure that no COVID cases will return between now and the Challenge Cup final.

“We saw it last year with Dan Sarginson, but it sort of derailed us last year and we’ve been extra vigilant since then and got all the correct protocols in place.

“We will have one eye on the final and we will all be taking extra care.”

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