Salford vs Castleford
7:45pm Thursday 26th September
AJ Bell Stadium
We take a look at the big issues, hear from both camps and possess the team news ahead of this play-off conflict between Salford Red Devils and Castleford Tigers in the AJ Bell Stadium…
It is a frightening prospect for opponents to think about the potential Jackson Hastings could create displays but that is just what the self-appraisal of the Salford talisman is.
Hastings’ first time in the AJ Bell Stadium has seen him eventually become the favourite to assert the Man of Steel award of Super League too and win the Rugby League Writers and Broadcasters Association’s player of the year accolade.
Even Daryl Powell, head trainer Thursday’s competitions, went on record calling him”the best player in the comp”. The man himself believes there continue to be areas of the game he needs to improve in.
“There’s been moments this past season where I’ve been very proud of everything I’ve been able to attain on the area and there have been moments where I had liked to have done more,” Hastings said.
“My sport is nowhere near ideal. There’s a couple of little things which I want to fix .”
Along with being grateful to allow him rebuild his career after departing NRL side Manly Sea Eagles beneath a cloud mid-season in 2018 to Salford, Hastings is grateful for his mother Megan’s support and guidance.
The 23-year-old half-back is hoping she is going to be able to fly to watch the Super League season and his time’s climax with Salford, although he expects it goes when she was showing her service.
“She came last year to watch me play and I got red-carded the first game,” Hastings remembered.
“She has seen me play once in two years live which is really odd for our family, but I’ve got two small sisters that need care for in the home.
“Mum’s clearly frustrated that she can’t observe all of the time, but she has updated by the lovers. They blow up her phone, she wakes up about 200 messages”
There was little shock when Castleford reached the Super League Grand Final for the first time in 2017, with finished top of the table that is regular-season and claimed the League Leaders’ Shield in the end of this Super Eights .
But after edging beyond St Helens at the semi-finals and playing with a scintillating, Daryl Powell’s side came up short against Leeds Rhinos at Old Trafford in a defeat that was 24-6 that was humbling.
Fast forward two decades and the Tigers are at the play-offs again, after slipping on points difference on the final night of the season but few people are talking about them.
At least couple of individuals were before Thursday, when Castleford compelled by knocking outside Challenge Cup champions Warrington Wolves in the very first elimination match with a win in the Halliwell Jones Stadium the remainder of Super League sit up and take notice.
The sole Yorkshire representative in this season’s play-offs might have to again for a spot at Old Trafford should they undergo Thursday’s match and will need to travel across the Pennines again this week to confront Salford in another elimination game.
Oliver Holmes, who played with his hometown club in that two years ago, isn’t fazed by this prospect and agreed doing it the hard way in 2019 has gained Castleford in those knock-out matches.
“flying across the Pennines to Lancashire isn’t always pleasant – clearly, as you’re going to Lancashire,” Holmes joked. “But I believe we’ve dealt with it fairly well and we are going to need to deal with it well again on Thursday.
“Much like Powelly has said, we are in better shape now looking forward to the play-offs than we had been in 2017 – and I believe he’s perfect.
“We’ve had to deal with a good deal more, we’re far more hardened and there is much more steel in us than back then, so I guess it is going to stand us in good stead.”
It’s honours between Salford and Castleford much in 2019, with the teams winning one match during the Super League regular period.
Tries from Nathan Massey, Jordan Rankin – that kicked four goals – Greg Eden and Jesse Sene-Lefao proved to take a 24-20 victory against the Red Devils in the Jungle at March.
Salford got back one on Castleford in June, but with that man Hastings putting up two in the 26-16 success and helping inspire the hosts to victory by scoring a try.
Lee Mossop, niall Evalds and Derrell Olpherts spanned for the Red Devils as well, with Krisnan Inu kicking six goals to put the seal to the win.
Even the victors on Thursday evening will 1 step away from a spot at the Grand Final, go on to face the loser of Friday’s showdown in the final between Wigan Warriors and St Helens the next week.
Salford head trainer Ian Watson has stuck using the identical squad as last week’s qualifying match away to Wigan, which watched despite having an conquer them placed.
Tigers head coach Daryl Powell has made two modifications with his 19-man squad in the elimination play-off out of the win over Warrington.
Calum Turner and mike McMeeken are ruled out due to injury, but Nathan Massey and Greg Eden are back in emptiness.
Salford Red Devils 19-man group: Niall Evalds, Kris Welham, Jake Bibby, Lee Mossop, Adam Wood, Gil Dudson, Josh Jones, George Griffin, Mark Flanagan, Joey Lussick, Adam Walker, Greg Burke, Tyrone McCarthy, Logan Tomkins, Ken Sio, Krisnan Inu, Ryan Lannon, Tui Lolohea, Jackson Hastings
Castleford Tigers 19-man squad: Cheyse Blair, James Clare, Chris Clarkson, Matt Cook, Greg Eden, Jamie Ellis, Oliver Holmes, Will Maher, Nathan Massey, Peter Mata’utia, Paul McShane, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Jacques O’Neill, Jordan Rankin, Daniel Smith, Jake Trueman, Liam Watts