Super League is back and the opening round concludes with an intriguing battle at the MKM Stadium.
Hull FC and Castleford Tigers have missed out on the play-offs in the last two seasons despite having very strong squads.
Thus, both clubs will be hoping to lay down a marker come Sunday afternoon.
It is a new era at the Black and Whites with Tony Smith taking charge, one of Super League’s best ever coaches.
He has also put together an exciting new spine and strike power with Leeds Rhinos duo Brad Dwyer and Liam Sutcliffe.
Smith’s opposite number is former Hull FC coach Lee Radford, formerly of Hull FC. He is now settled at the Jungle and has a strong squad at his disposal and new halfbacks too.
It is one of those games that could be too close to call.
However, this exciting game has been overshadowed by talk about Joe Westerman after a video was circulated of him on social media on Sunday night which resulted in Castleford fining him after an internal investigation.
This Lee Radford has spoke about the incident speaking to BBC Sport West Yorkshire:
“Obviously Monday sort of knocked us about a little bit, but since then he’s trained well and put his best foot forward for selection.
“He’s one of a number of players who have had a good pre-season and players that I’m looking forward to seeing what they can do as a collective for 2023.
“Throughout his career he’s rode a rocky road I suppose, he’s had some other setbacks throughout his career off the field but he’s always responded in a good manner and mentally he’s a tough fella.”
This came as Radford confirmed that Westerman could be selected for the game saying he thinks the loose-forward would be “up for playing.”
Westerman was then included in their squad for the game against his former side.
𝗥𝗼𝘂𝗻𝗱 𝟭 𝘀𝗾𝘂𝗮𝗱 🔐'𝗱 𝗶𝗻
Full squad details ⤵️@GeoShieldUK • #COYF
— Castleford Tigers (@CTRLFC) February 17, 2023
Radford has had the luxury of being able to pick from a near fully fit Fords squad and Castleford fans will be keen to see some of the new faces who could potentially make their Super League debuts for the Club this weekend.
New half-back duo Gareth Widdop and Jacob Miller, along with Jack Broadbent and Muizz Mustapha are amongst the new recruits included in the squad. A man who loves a day out at FC’s home during his time at his former club, the imposing front rower Albert Vete, will be looking to make an impression if he makes his first competitive run out for the Tigers.
As for Hull FC as many as four players are in line to make their competitive debuts for Hull FC – Tex Hoy, Liam Sutcliffe, Jake Clifford and Brad Dwyer will all be looking to build off their pre-season outings.
Andre Savelio is named in the squad and he could make his first appearance since April after recovering from a knee injury.
Meanwhile, Ligi Sao could enjoy his first action since the Rugby League World Cup Final after missing the two pre-season fixtures through a dead leg.
The game does, however, come too soon for Carlos Tuimavave, who edges closer to making a return to the field.
Jake Trueman, Connor Wynne, Mitieli Vulikijapani, Jamie Shaul are also unavailable through injury.
Kick-off time and TV Channel
The game kicks off at 15:00 at the MKM Stadium.
There is no live TV coverage of the game but highlights will be available on BBC’s Super League Show.