Oliver Holmes believes Tigers have a key advantage over St Helens
Castleford forward Oliver Holmes says his team’s lack of matches in recent weeks will give them an advantage going into Saturday’s Betfred Challenge Cup final against St Helens.
The Tigers saw two of their Super League fixtures, against Saints and Huddersfield, cancelled and Holmes was one of 14 players rested for last Sunday’s game against Salford, with Wembley in mind.
Not playing for over three weeks might suggest Castleford could be underdone against the champions but Holmes believes it will have the opposite effect.
“It definitely freshens us up,” he said. “You look at how hectic the fixture schedule has been up to us missing these last two games.
“Lads were creaking, it’s not easy backing up games on five and six-day turnarounds constantly – you can’t train, you’re constantly recovering.
“The time off has definitely given us time to freshen people up and get some quality training into us.
“I 100 per cent think it puts us at an advantage going into this game.”
Holmes was a try scorer in the Tigers’ 23-10 defeat by Leeds in the 2014 final at Wembley, not that he remembers much of the occasion, which he intends to put right on Saturday.
“When I look back to the 2014 final, I think we tried as a group to stay as normal as possible, not trying to make it feel too different,” he said.
“But I don’t think that was the right way to go about it. This time we’re going to really drink in the atmosphere and the build-up.
“When I walked out in 2014 I didn’t look up, I kept my head down, trying to stay focused and keep my mind on the game. This time I’ll be trying to take everything in and to remember everything.
“It goes in a flash. I can barely remember anything of the final or the 2017 Grand Final so this time I’m going to try and savour it and soak in as much as I can.
“You look at the Euro final in front of over 65,000 and hear the commentators saying they’ve not seen Wembley feel like that ever. So even though there will be only 45,000 there, I’m expecting the ground to be pretty electric.
“It’s going to be a bit of a blowout for fans getting down to Wembley because it’s been a bit of a while, I expect it to feel pretty special.”
Holmes, like coach Daryl Powell, will leave his hometown club at the end of the season to join Warrington and he says that will give him extra motivation to end Castleford’s 35-year wait for Challenge Cup glory.
“I’ve spent my whole adult life at Cas and to not have a major trophy behind me during these 12 years is something that I want to rectify,” he said.
“It does make it that bit more special and it probably puts a bit more pressure on you but pressure brings the best out in people.
“To win the Challenge Cup final with this club and this group of lads would finish off my career at Cas on the most unbelievable high that I could ever think of.
“It was a massive decision to leave and I want to finish off in the best way possible, to etch yourself into history and to know that I’ll always come back to that Cas team of 2021 that went and won something.”