Michael Shenton was forced off the field four minutes into the second half of the Tigers’ 34-16 home Super League defeat by Huddersfield after coming off worse attempting a tackle, and coach Daryl Powell fears X-rays will reveal at least one fracture.
“It looks that way,” Powell said. “It’s really badly swollen and he’s sore in a few points on his face.
“He will go to hospital now. I just hope he’s OK. He’s been an unbelievable champion for this club. I hope it’s not as bad as it looks.”
Already without 15 players due to the Covid-19 outbreak that forced the postponement of the last two fixtures, the loss of Shenton was another blow to the Tigers, who have now lost seven of their last eight league games.
Powell was able to include just seven members of his Cup final team, including prop Daniel Smith in the role of a makeshift scrum-half, and was forced to bolster his team with the addition of short-term loan signings Jimmy Keinhorst and Jake Sweeting.
“It’s so hard at the moment,” he said. “We had 15 players missing with Covid and another one injured. It’s madness.
“I thought we battled hard but losing Shenny was a massive blow. We couldn’t quite score when we needed to in the second half.
“But I can’t question our effort. We just can’t get a team together at the moment. This is as hard as I’ve seen it in the job.
“We find ourselves with six-and-a-half weeks left and we’ve got to find our spirit and our determination and keep going.”
There will be little rest for Castleford as they prepare for a derby with Leeds at Headingley on Friday but Powell is hoping to have some of his absentees back.
“It will look a different team,” he said. “We’ve a massive amount of players missing and quite a few will come back into contention. We’re going to need to start winning some games quickly.”
Huddersfield were only slightly better off, lacking 10 of their first-17 squad through injury and suspension but they had enough experience among their forwards to guide their side to a second successive win.
Coach Ian Watson admitted the recent arrival of Australian hooker Nathan Peats has proved to be invaluable as the Giants look to build for the future.
“He is an absolute top-class nine,” Watson said. “You can see why he’s played State of Origin.
“He’s really helping our young halves and gives us some composure. I rate him up there as one of the best nines I’ve had in my teams over the years.”
Watson also sang the praises of rookie stand-off Will Pryce, the 18-year-old son of former Great Britain international Leon Pryce, who created Huddersfield’s first two tries for centre Leroy Cudjoe and set the platform for the victory.
“I thought we were very good in the first half,” he said. “We controlled the field position really well and, once we got opportunities, we executed really well. I thought Will Pryce opened them up a few times.
“In the second half it went error for error and became really scrappy. The first half won us the game.”