Sky Live Super League preview: Castleford Tigers vs Wigan Warriors
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Last Updated: 05/04/19 7:09pm
Castleford coach Daryl Powell has warned Zak Hardaker to expect a hostile reception when he makes his return to the Mend-a-Hose Jungle on Friday night.
The former Leeds and England full-back was a key member of the Tigers' team that won the League Leaders' Shield in 2017 until a failed drugs test ruled him out of the Grand Final and led to his sacking.
After serving a 14-month suspension for cocaine use, Hardaker made his return with Wigan and he will make his 10th successive appearance for them against his former club in the Betfred Super League round-nine fixture.
"He'll get the usual one [reception] for a player that's left a team in circumstances that you wouldn't want," Powell said. "No doubt it will be pretty vocal.
"I've had them myself going back to certain clubs, I don't think he'll worry about it too much. We've just got to make sure he doesn't play well.
"I thought he started the season off a little bit slow but he looks like he's getting some form back now.
"Carrying the ball out of backfield is one of his key strengths and he looks like he's doing that as he usually does."
The Pontefract-born Hardaker, 27, is confident he can deal with boos from fans who once adored him.
"It will be mixed emotions for me," he said.
"It was a sad situation in the way I left the club and I'm sure it's going to be a hostile atmosphere for myself.
"I've been booed before and been called every name under the sun but I'll take it on the chin and get on with it."
While Castleford look to avoid a third straight defeat, the reigning champions are bidding for a third successive victory after turning around their fortunes.
Powell said: "I hate losing one, never mind three out of the last four, but you've got to deal with wins and losses in the right way. We'll find out on Friday where we're at.
"It will be a tough challenge. They've got some players coming back and they look like they're coming into some form now."
Castleford 19-man squad: James Clare, Mitch Clark, Matt Cook, Greg Eden, Tuoyo Egodo, Alex Foster, Oliver Holmes, Will Maher, Nathan Massey, Peter Mata'utia, Grant Millington, Adam Milner, Greg Minikin, Jacques O'Neill, Jesse Sene-Lefao, Michael Shenton, Jake Trueman, Calum Turner, Liam Watts.
Wigan 19-man squad: Joe Bullock, Joe Burgess, Liam Byrne, Tom Davies, Ben Flower, Oliver Gildart, Joe Greenwood, Zak Hardaker, Willie Isa, Thomas Leuluai, Dom Manfredi, Romain Navarrete, Sean O'Loughlin, Oliver Partington, Jarrod Sammut, Dan Sarginson, Jake Shorrocks, Morgan Smithies, George Williams.