Super League: Hull Kingston Rovers vs Castleford Tigers talking points
Watch Hull KR and Castleford go head to head in Super League on Thursday evening, live on Sky Sports Arena and Main Event from 7pm
By Marc Bazeley
Last Updated: 27/02/20 11:31am
We look at what to keep an eye out for when Hull Kingston Rovers host Castleford Tigers in Thursday's live Super League clash....
McGuire eyes another Rovers triumph
When these two sides met back in August last year, a golden point extra-time drop goal from Danny McGuire snatched a 27-26 victory for Rovers which went a long way towards helping them retain their Super League status.
This week, Castleford return to Hull College Craven Park with the hosts aiming to get back to winning ways after a 22-4 defeat to Huddersfield Giants which came on the back of a 52-10 loss against Leeds Rhinos.
McGuire, who will be in the studio for Sky Sports' coverage of the match, has since hung up his boots to take up an off-field coaching and recruitment role at Rovers, and has his fingers crossed for a repeat outcome.
"It was actually one of the most enjoyable games I played in for Rovers," McGuire told Sky Sports. "I'm pretty sure it was my first taste of golden point, so we were a bit unsure how it was going to play out.
"But it was a crucial win to keep us in the competition last year, so if we can get an exciting match-up on Thursday we'll be in for a treat.
"Hopefully it will be nice and close, and - with my Rovers hat on - us coming out on top."
Rovers opened the season with a win over Wakefield Trinity and followed that up with a defeat to bitter rivals Hull FC, although the team still won plaudits for their display that night and McGuire hopes they can tap into them for the clash with Castleford.
"There were so many positives in the first couple of games and a real buzz around the team," McGuire said.
"When you've been beaten, you're disappointed and you want a quick turnaround. The lads have had a few days to get right and are looking forward to getting out there and playing a really good Cas team."
Clare relishes clash with Minikin
They spent much of last season playing alongside each other in the three-quarters for Castleford and are good friends off the field as well, but James Clare and Greg Minikin could well be up against each other on Thursday.
Minikin made the switch to Hull KR in the off-season, scoring two tries in four appearances on the wing so far in 2020, although he has maintained a link with his former club by helping Clare in a coaching role for a company run by Tigers assistant Danny Orr.
Clare, who is averaging a try a game in Super League after three appearances this season, knows there is a high chance of him coming face-to-face with Minikin on the field in East Hull and the 28-year-old is excited by that prospect.
"It could be a one-on-one against him, which is always nice," Clare said. "He's an extremely good friend of mine.
"I'm actually doing some coaching with him and no doubt I'll be having a bit of banter with him, telling him I'll jump over his head or something like that. It's always a bit of fun."
Castleford would go top of Super League with a victory over Rovers, having made it three wins from four matches so far in 2020 with victory in last Friday's derby clash at home to Wakefield.
Clare is in no doubt the most recent losses against Leeds and current table-toppers Huddersfield do not reflect the dangers Hull KR pose, however.
"They've had a bad showing against Leeds and Huddersfield, but the way Tony Smith has got Hull KR playing at the moment, being expansive, you're going to let tries in every now and again," Clare said.
"But they are scoring some phenomenal tries as well and we've got to be ready for absolutely anything."
Gee set for Rovers bow
On Tuesday evening last week, Matty Gee was helping Dewsbury Rams to an 18-16 victory away to Halifax in their re-arranged Championship match on dual-registration terms.
This Thursday, the former London Broncos back row is set to be handed his first start for Hull KR after Tony Smith's side had their pack decimated by injuries.
Hooker Matt Parcell is the latest member of the Rovers squad to be sidelined after damaging his ankle ligaments in the defeat at Huddersfield, joining Harvey Livett, Weller Hauraki and the suspended Rob Mulhern on the sidelines, opening the door for Gee to feature against Castleford.
"We're having our fair share of injuries to experienced players in key positions at present and that is unfortunate as it really does impact on momentum, both individually for the players involved but also collectively for us as a team," Rovers head coach Smith said.
🤕 INJURY UPDATE: Coach Tony Smith says his Hull KR squad must deal with the ‘trials and tribulations’ of @SuperLeague after receiving the news that hooker Matt Parcell faces an eight to nine week recovery from an ankle injury. https://t.co/fZ8TcSeuXi pic.twitter.com/dLvutk13ve— Hull Kingston Rovers (@hullkrofficial) February 25, 2020
"They have each been very similar injuries in nature but we've studied how they were sustained and they have just been cases of being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
"Matty is champing at the bit. These injuries are not ideal, but they do provide an opportunity for our younger and emerging players to gain valuable experience and show what they can do."
Meanwhile, Parcell's absence means Jez Litten is likely to come back into the team at hooker after impressing for the reserves recently.
Powell boosted by experience
By contrast, Smith's opposite number Daryl Powell has two of his more experienced members of the pack available again with Adam Milner and Jesse Sene-Lefao both included in the 21-man squad for the trip to Rovers.
Loose forward Milner had been sidelined by a concussion and then a minor injury suffered in training, while Sene-Lefao had not featured since the defeat to Toronto Wolfpack in Michael Shenton's testimonial.
Their return means academy graduate Jacques O'Neill drops out of contention despite Powell being pleased with his recent showings, but the Castleford head coach is delighted to have Milner and Sene-Lefao back.
"It brings more experience and while Jacques has done a good job, Adam Milner and Jesse are high-quality players," Powell told the Pontefract and Castleford Express.
"It gives us a really strong, capable and tough bench. When you are replacing your middle men, you want to maintain the pressure and focus on the opposition as much as you possibly can.
"Some of our pack players look in the best shape they have ever looked and that will only help us moving forward."