Saints awarded walkover win after Castleford 'unable to raise a team'
Wednesday's Betfred Super League fixture between Castleford and St Helens has been cancelled because the Tigers say they are unable to raise a team.
The match - a dress rehearsal for the Challenge Cup final on July 17 - has been awarded to reigning champions St Helens with a 24-0 victory because Castleford do not meet the threshold for a postponement under the Covid-19 framework.
To be eligible for a re-arrangement, a club need to have seven senior players unavailable as a direct result of positive tests or as close contacts.
Castleford say that, in addition to a lengthy injury list among their senior players, they have a number of youngsters with first team experience unavailable as close contacts of a single Covid-19 positive test.
In addition, the club's Academy squad have all been advised to isolate as a result of two further positive tests.
It is a worrying development less than three weeks before the clubs are due to meet at Wembley.
It is the seventh Super League fixture to fall victim of the coronavirus pandemic in 2021 but the first to be cancelled. New dates have been found for three of the other games so far.
In 2020, Warrington were awarded a 24-0 after their opponents Salford were unable to raise a team.
It was decided last season that league positions will be determined by win percentage in the event that not all fixtures were completed.
A club must play at least 18 matches to qualify for the top-six play-offs.
Castleford, who fielded a patched-up team against Catalans Dragons last Thursday, say captain Michael Shenton suffered a knee injury in that game and Paul McShane, Peter Mata'utia and Suaia Matagi all picked up knocks in the England-All Stars game on Friday.
A statement from the club read: "Castleford Tigers are devastated that Wednesday night's Betfred Super League match against St Helens has been cancelled.
"The Tigers have just 14 first team players available for selection for the fixture on Wednesday due to injuries and following a young player within the first-team environment testing positive for Covid-19, which has resulted in seven (other) players needing to be stood down due to contact tracing protocols."
Castleford say they are confident they will be able to put a team together for their next scheduled fixture, at Huddersfield on Tuesday, July 6.