At the end of last season Hull KR and Castleford battled in what felt like a shoot out for a place in the play-offs. Fast forward to the start of this season and both have flattered to deceive and are still looking for a first win.
Hull KR have been downed by Wigan and Huddersfield in the opening two rounds with Lachlan Coote’s absence disappointing those so excited to see the three time Super League Champion in a Hull KR shirt.
Turning to the Tigers, despite a winter of great recruitment, they were shocked by Salford in Round One and soundly beaten last week by former coach Daryl Powell and his Warrington side. So, both teams are desperate to pick up the win.
As aforementioned, Hull KR are without major signing Lachlan Coote this week. He joins Albert Vete on the side lines whilst Jimmy Keinhorst has also dropped out of the squad after featuring on the bench last week. Fortunately, Matty Storton should be back after being a late withdrawal against Huddersfield. Elliot Minchella could also be set for his return from long term injury.
As for the Tigers, they’ve lost Jake Mamo, George Lawler and Kenny Edwards due to injury or suspension. Fortunately, Alex Sutcliffe has still been named in the 21-man squad despite picking up an injury in Warrington.
Brad Takairangi vs Jordan Turner: Two players who shone in 2021 could likely come up against each other in the centres this week. Brad Takairangi earned huge praise last season for his blend of power and mercurial skill and has started the season at right centre. As for Jordan Turner he’s started on the bench as an impact sub so far this year but the absence of Jake Mamo means he could return to the centre role he was so good in last year. One of these two centres could very well create some headlines on Friday night.
Jez Litten v Paul McShane: Paul McShane has been one of the best number nines in the league over the last few years even picking up the Man of Steel in 2020. But he’ll come up with one of the best up and coming and dynamic nines in the league in the shape of Jez Litten. Both with solid running threats and organisations, the ruck will be a key area in this game.
Matty Storton v Joe Westerman: Two very different 13s, a powerful force like Matty Storton comes up against the ball-playing Joe Westerman. The 13 who stamps his authority on the match the better and determines how the game is played in the middle may just determine the outcome.
Where the game will be won and lost:
As I said earlier, the ruck will be a key area in this fixture such is the energy and threat both starting nines will bring to the table. Fortunately for Hull KR, they also have Matt Parcell who can come on and work alongside Litten or give his fellow hooker a chance to refresh. This means the Robins may have more energy in this area of the field and if they can turn that into breaks and chances then they may well go on to win the game.
Prediction: Hull KR 26-18 Castleford Tigers