St Helens have the chance to mark the anniversary of the appointment of Justin Holbrook by completing their transformation under their Australian head coach.
Holbrook was appointed as the successor to Keiron Cunningham just over 12 months ago, too late to avoid a humiliating 53-10 defeat at Castleford in the sixth round of the Ladbrokes Challenge Cup, but in time to bring them out of a deep crisis in Super League.
Holbrook has turned Saints from potential relegation candidates to title favourites and on Saturday they will have the opportunity to finally erase the memory of that 10-try thrashing by the Tigers when they return to the Mend-a-Hose Jungle for the stand-out sixth-round tie.
Prop Kyle Amor, who was in the Saints team that dark day last May, insists they have already made amends by hammering Castleford 46-6 in the opening league game in February.
“I hear a lot of people talking about last year’s cup game and the defeat but let’s not forget we put nearly 50 points on them too,” Amor said.
“That will be fresh in their minds and fresh in ours. We know if we play to our best then they are in for a tough day.
“The playing group are in a totally different state of mind - we had just lost our coach and we didn’t know where we were at.
“The evidence is there, we’re a different animal this year.
“On the flip side, we know they are a good side and are a different team at home too. They play that pitch well and we will have to turn up with the bit between our teeth.”
It is a decade since St Helens completed a hat-trick of Wembley triumphs and Amor admits a cup run is long overdue.
“This club wants to win trophies and we know that as players,” he said. “We are confident and that comes off the back of hard work.
“If we keep doing that and nailing our individual jobs and roles then it will take a very good side to stop us.”
Australian full-back Ben Barba returns from injury for the league leaders, who are joint cup favourites with Wigan, while Castleford have recalled winger Jy Hitchcox from his loan spell to offset the absence of injured duo Greg Eden and James Clare.
The Tigers also expect to have centre Jake Webster and forward Nathan Massey back from injury but are still having to mix and match in the absence of regular half-backs Luke Gale and Ben Roberts.
“Having to play players out of position isn’t ideal but the guys can handle those positions,” said coach Daryl Powell.
“It’s tough but it is what it is. You have seasons where you have injuries, some worse than others, but at the moment we are missing two key half-backs and a really sharp winger and we have missed some things that they provide.
“But we have a good side and a good squad and we are capable of anything.”
In Saturday’s other sixth-round tie, 1,000-1 outsiders Whitehaven - the only part-time team left in the competition - take on Catalans Dragons in Perpignan.