Powell relaxed over Chase reunion
Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell insists his side will not be distracted by the presence of Rangi Chase as they look to maintain their perfect start to their 2014 First Utility Super League campaign.
Salford Red Devils provide the next test for Powell's unbeaten Tigers and they have received a welcome boost as they attempt to halt a three-match losing run.
Chase, the 2011 Man of Steel, was the Red Devils' marquee signing who tore a calf muscle on his eagerly-awaited debut against Wakefield Trinity Wildcats last month.
Now fully recovered, all eyes will be on the England international when he faces his former club for the first time since his close-season move across the Pennines but Powell is determined his players will not lose their focus.
"Apart from having to deal with his ability as a player, emotionally we're not getting too attached with that kind of stuff," Powell said.
"We need to go and play our own game and, if there's some pressure to be applied to Rangi when we've got the ball, then we'll do that.
"Obviously he's a smart player and we know all about him - we've seen enough of him in practice to know what sort of things he can throw at you."
The sale of Chase enabled Powell to significantly strengthen his squad and he has been delighted with replacement Marc Sneyd, who made the reverse move on a season-long loan deal and quickly struck up an understanding with his new half-back partner Liam Finn.
"We struggled to get the balance last year," Powell said. "We played with one half when Rangi was here and now we're playing with two that have a real good balance.
"I don't think we've got the better or worse part of deal, we've been able to get more depth in our squad as a result of Rangi going to Salford and I think the people who have come in have done a great job."
St Helens, who lost top spot to Leeds Rhinos last night, have the chance to regain it when they put their 100 per cent record on the line at improving Wakefield.
Richard Agar's Wildcats have put together back-to-back wins, piling up a century of points in the process, after losing their opening three matches and Saints captain Paul Wellens is warning his team to expect a difficult afternoon at the Rapid Solicitors Stadium.
"They're playing some good stuff," Wellens said. "What seems to happen before most Super League seasons is that teams write Wakefield off and they just keep coming back and surprising people.
"I think you've got to pay Richard Agar some huge respect because he seems to get a lot of disruption with players coming and going year on year, with the club's financial troubles, but he keeps managing to assemble a good group of players who play hard for each other and work well together.
"Wakefield is always a difficult place to go. But if we perform the way we have in the past, we can get a a result."
Elsewhere, Hull KR are favourites to get their first win at the expense of struggling Bradford Bulls while Widnes Vikings look to bounce back from their heavy defeat at Leeds when they visit Hull FC.
The Bulls, whose ownership saga rumbles on, are still bottom of the table after their points deduction but coach Francis Cummins remains upbeat over their survival hopes on and off the field.
"Our immediate goal is to get back to zero points and we know that a win this weekend will up the pressure on the clubs just above us," Cummins said.
"The boys need to stick together for the next few weeks and then, hopefully, we will be smiling by the end of it."
Hull will be without three senior props for the visit of the Vikings, with Iafeta Paleaaesina returning from injury to help offset the loss of Mickey Paea, Josh Bowden and Garreth Carvell.
Coach Lee Radford is upset over the two-match ban handed out to Paea for a dangerous tackle in his side's defeat at Castleford and was surprised at the club's failure to overturn the suspension on appeal.
"We're doing it tough at the minute which is part and parcel of the sport, but to lose Mickey in these circumstances is a pretty bitter pill to swallow," Radford said.
"Injuries are one thing, but a suspension like that is a very harsh decision."