Clark hoping to hook Roby berth

pic

21st June 2014

Daryl Clark will be hoping to press his international claims when he goes up against current England hooker James Roby in Castleford Tigers' First Utility Super League top-four clash with St Helens at Langtree Park on Sunday.

The 20-year-old is widely seen as the heir apparent to the St Helens number nine, who has been England's first-choice hooker for the best part of the last decade.

"Obviously he's made the shirt his own," Clark said. "He's a great player and, if I could get out of the game half of what he's done, I'd be more than happy."

Clark, who played for the England Knights last year, has been promoted to Steve McNamara's senior squad ahead of the end-of-season Four Nations Series down under but is facing stiff competition, not only from Roby but from Wigan Warriors' Michael McIlorum and Hull KR's Josh Hodgson.

"There are more quality hookers now fighting for the spot," he said. "I'll do everything I can to put myself in the frame."

Clark, who has been linked with a move to Warrington Wolves for 2015, has hit the best form of his career to help Castleford establish themselves in the top four of Super League.

The Tigers have never won at St Helens in the summer era and have lost their last 12 meetings with them, going back to 2008, but they pushed Nathan Brown's men all the way earlier this year before conceding a late try to go down 30-28.

"We led for 60 or 70 minutes and it was just the last play of the game that got us," Clark said.

"We've played every team once and I think we've proved we can compete against the top sides. If we play well, we'll be in with a chance of winning every game."

The Tigers began the season as potential relegation candidates but Saints boss Brown admits they are genuine title contenders.

"Cas aren't a surprise any more," he said. "They are there for the long haul now. Daryl Powell has done a tremendous job over there."

Salford Red Devils will be hoping to build on their big win over Bradford Bulls when skipper Adrian Morley makes his return to Warrington, who are boosted by the return from suspension of co-captain Ben Westwood.

"You miss the calibre of player like Ben," said Wolves coach Tony Smith. "He's been out for the last three weeks and we've managed without him pretty well.

"Having said that, it's great to have him back and we are looking forward to his return and what he's able to bring to the team in terms of his toughness, style and experience."

In Sunday's other games, Wakefield Trinity Wildcats and Widnes Vikings will be hoping to halt wretched runs when they host Wigan and Leeds Rhinos respectively.

Wigan have won their last 11 meetings with the Wildcats, whose last victory was at the JJB Stadium in 2009.

The Warriors have also won on their last seven trips to the Rapid Solicitors Stadium, where the capacity has been increased to 7,258 for this game.

Wigan, who went top of the table for the first time this year with Wednesday's win over Widnes, are set to give a debut to Sam Hopkins.

Like Wigan, Widnes will be playing their third game in 10 days and they will have a debutant in Liam Carberry as they look to secure their first win in 10 meetings with the Rhinos.

The match will be Leeds prop Jamie Peacock's 400th Super League appearance, enabling him to become only the fourth player to reach the milestone.