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Super League side could struggle to name a team this week as they are ravaged by illness

For the fifth time since 2015, Castleford Tigers and Hull FC will meet in the Challenge Cup and former Hull boss now Cas boss Andy Last has previewed the game.

“We hope it’s a catalyst for obviously some better form and getting some momentum. Winning brings confidence and we get an opportunity to play 80 minutes and if we get that win I’m sure the mood in the camp will be far better leading into the Huddersfield game the following week,” Last said on BBC Radio Leeds.

“We’re looking to put in a good performance and try and do our absolute best to get an 80 minute performance because that’s what’s going to be required. You don’t get a second chance in the Challenge Cup.

“It’s an absolutely magnificent competition and I’ve been fortunate enough to have some success in the Challenge Cup, obviously in my former years with Full FC and the superb occasions. So if we can put a good 80 minute performance together and give a good account of ourselves then I’d like to think that we’ll get a result.”

He then gave his assessment on Hull:

“Yeah, they’ve been going well. I watched them live against Wigan, I went to the game with my two boys and we sat in the stands and we ended up being surrounded by obviously the non-players for Hull because of the tickets that we got.

“I had a bit of a catch up with one or two of the guys I worked with before. They’re defending with a great amount of energy for each other, they’re scrambling hard.

“In Clifford they’ve got a really good controlling half-back, kicking the ball well and finding some telling plays for them. The forward pack is big, strong and play very, very direct.

When asked about what challenges face his side, he jokingly answered: “Having 21 players.”

This is because illness could make it difficult for him to name a team:

“We’ve had a little bit of illness in camp so Tuesday we had to cancel the afternoon session because we didn’t want players in close proximity in the gym, the the same in the wrestle area and the video room so we just did a field session.

“The markers, the wellness which they’re filling, those numbers are still quite low considering obviously it’s a Thursday.

“You’d like to normally see those wellness markers a little bit higher than what they are after a day off so there’s a little bit of illness and a bit of a cough, cold, diarrhoea etc. running through the camp.

“It’s been lingering for a couple of weeks now. We get players isolated and away from it. We’ve managed to contain it and then a couple of days later someone else ends up going down with it. So yeah, it’s lingering a little bit longer than we’d like it to.

“We’re doing everything we can to try and contain it and make sure those people who are affected aren’t in close proximity to the rest of the squad. It’s been a little bit of a challenge, but that’s rugby league.

“Every team has these periods where they do it tough in terms of bodies, injuries, viruses and illness. We’re just doing it a little bit tough at the moment, but we’ll crack on. The 17 blokes will enter the field of play on Sunday, I’m sure we’ll give a good account of themselves.”

He also gave an update on Gareth Widdop and Niall Evalds after injuries last week:

“We’re waiting for the scan results on Niall. He’s had his scan today so we’re going to be waiting on the results of that scan, which will probably drop tomorrow.

“There is a definite tear in there, but we need to see the results of the scan to determine the severity of it and whether it will need surgery.

“He was absolutely gutted last week, which he’s going to be. He wants to get on the field and contribute and help out his teammates and help out this club. I don’t feel as though he’s able to do that at the moment, so we’ll support him and hopefully he gets some good news and it’s not as severe as we first thought.

“Then Gaz Widdop has jarred an ankle, he’s got a little bit of floating bone in his ankle which you know can sometimes lock up a little bit causing a bit discomfort which challenges him you know when he’s obviously trying to get around the field.

“He was able to train today I got through the session today, both the morning session and the afternoon session. We’re happy with where Gaz is at, it’ll just be a pain tolerance thing with him.

“Jacob Miller won’t be able to play because of a HIA, so we’ll have three key players there, but we just have to roll with what we’ve got.

“Those guys who may be playing in unfamiliar positions, in out position, etc, etc. It’ll be a free hit for them and we’ll go and give the best account of what we can with the 17 that we’ve got available.”

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