Castleford coach Daryl Powell feels his side are ready for the challenge as they relaunch their Betfred Super League campaign this weekend.
The Tigers play their first match since March as they take on Catalans Dragons behind closed doors at Headingley on Saturday.
They face a Catalans side who have already seen action since the season resumed following the Covid-19 stoppage – albeit in the shape of a defeat by St Helens – and who beat them comfortably when they met in France in February.
Powell said: “We are obviously pleased to be back. It has been an incredibly tough period for everybody.
“We just want to get going again and give our supporters something to cheer. Sport is so massive in the British psyche and I think everyone has missed it.
“We are pretty highly motivated to do well. We finished well before the lockdown happened and we want to start well in this restart of the season.
“Last time we played Catalans they completely dominated us and we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again.
“Physically you have to be up for the challenge against them and I think we’re ready to do that.
“We’ve been off for four and a half months – so who knows until we get out there? – but I believe we are in a good place.”
One area where Catalans will have an advantage is in having experienced the new rules that were introduced during the coronavirus-enforced hiatus. Powell has trained his players for a game without scrums and the new ‘six-again’ rule but match conditions cannot be replicated.
“The game has changed,” Powell said. “The six again will have a big impact and, as much training as we’ve done, you have to experience it to know what it’s going to be like.”
Also raring to go is Warrington co-captain Jack Hughes, who missed the start of the season after undergoing a double hernia operation following Great Britain’s tour of New Zealand and Papua New Guinea last autumn.
The back rower had become frustrated after a setback delayed his return to action but the break in the season gave him time to fully recover.
“In terms of my health it’s done me a massive favour,” said the 28-year-old, who is back in contention for Saturday’s clash with Hull KR, also at Headingley. “I’m back to 100 per cent fit now, all is good.
“It was tough. It was the first real time I’ve had to deal with an injury that has kept me out long term and I’m not a guy who likes missing games and training. I like being in the thick of it at all times.
“It was challenging but challenging times create tough people, and tough times don’t last. I’ve come through the other side now and we’re back into games this weekend doing what we love, and we can’t wait for it.”
Players from both Warrington and Hull KR will wear black armbands in tribute to Jordan Cox, a former player of both clubs who died in April at the age of 27.
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