Recent Castleford Tigers acquisition Liam Horne says that they have to maintain a positive mindset if they are to come out on top in tonight’s relegation crunch clash against Wakefield Trinity.
The Papua New Guinea international only joined Cas at the back end of July, and having made his debut in a crushing 28-0 home defeat against Huddersfield Giants earlier this month, he saw then-boss Andy Last relieved of his duties that same night.
Nine days ago, Danny Ward was brought in to replace Last, chosen as the man to guide the club to safety and with it their Super League status.
Locked at the bottom of the ladder with Wakefield, both on eight points, tension is high ahead of this evening’s meeting at Belle Vue.
Horne though described a newly found ‘glass half-full’ mentality within the Tigers camp, which they’ll take on the road into Trinity’s home turf with them.
Mentality is the key Castleford Tigers
Ahead of the ‘Battle of Belle Vue 2.0’, the 25-year-old told Love Rugby League: “We’ve had a good week at training. The morale has lifted, the intensity has lifted, everything has lifted – I can feel the belief within the boys and the energy.
“It’s been quite hectic here [for me]. After the first game, the coach gets sacked and then a new coach gets appointed, so it has been pretty crazy, but it’s been good.
“He [Danny Ward] is a former Cas player, so he’s come in and set the stall out of what we need to do. He’s going to be good for us and hopefully we’ll get the job done.
“The morale and energy at training has been unreal at training this week. The intensity has picked up a lot since the new coach has come. I’ve actually been a bit sore after the training sessions which is always a good thing.
“The boys are enjoying it, we’ve had a good week and we can’t wait to play tomorrow (tonight).”
Liam Horne: ‘The relegation system is cut throat’
Born in Port Moresby, Horne adds to the pool of PNG representatives currently on show in Super League alongside the likes of Lachlan Lam and Edwin Ipape at Leigh, and Nene Macdonald at Leeds.
The hooker moved to Australia in his younger days and was picked up by Brisbane side Norths Devils. Forming part of the club’s winning 2021 season in the Intrust Super Cup, he was then called into Brisbane Broncos’ NRL squad for a pre-season friendly ahead of the 2023 campaign.
Featuring 14 times for the Devils back in the Queensland Cup, scoring nine tries, an entirely different system on these shores has taken quite some getting used to, as he told us in the build-up to this evening’s basement battle.
Horne added: “The relegation system is pretty cut throat. Teams at this time of the year are looking to play finals, trying to make the six and to do all that stuff.
“We’re playing to keep our season alive, so it’s pretty cut throat, but then again it brings the best out of players.
“We’re just looking to give our all and keep Cas up.”
Tigers fans give ‘warm’ welcome to recent recruit
Making his PNG debut against Fiji last year in a ‘Pacific Test’ warm-up ahead of the World Cup, the now-25-year-old played in at the Campbelltown Stadium, a venue with a capacity of 17,500.
If you take around 10,000 off that figure, you get the average attendance at the Jungle in 2022. Nonetheless, Horne told us the Tigers fans have given him a warm welcome, leaving no doubt in his mind about how important survival is.
He affirmed: “The fans have been welcoming, the club has been really good, and the boys have welcomed me really well.
“Walking around Pontefract and Cas, the fans come up to you, give you a mouthful and say ‘keep us up, keep us up’.
“Everywhere we go, the fans come and have a yarn to us. They are passionate and we’ve got to transfer that to when we play, so I can see how much it means to the fans, and we’ve just got to transfer that passion onto the field.
“I don’t really want to think about going down, we just want to think about staying up and that’s what our minds are set on.”