FIRE DOUSED | After returning to finals action in 2015, the St George-Illawarra Dragons struggled un...
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Former Leeds prop Danny Ward insists he has no axe to grind as he prepares for his first return to Headingley since his sacking.
The Great Britain international will be in the Castleford side hoping to make amends for a record loss to the Rhinos last month.
Ward missed that game, also at Headingley, through injury but is now relishing the chance to face the club who dismissed him for a breach of discipline in January.
The sacking was a huge setback to the 25-year-old?s promising career but he has now adjusted to life at the bottom end of the engage Super League and feels no bitterness towards his old club.
Ward, a Grand Final winner with Leeds in 2004, said: ?It is all in the past now. I can?t be thinking about that anymore. I have moved on and I don?t have any hard feelings at all.
?I am doing all right. It is a bit different going back there as I have got a lot of memories of the place but it will be good to go back.
?I am still good mates with the boys at Leeds and I am looking forward to playing with them.?
The task is a daunting one for the Tigers as they make the short journey to the home of their second-placed rivals on the back of four successive defeats.
They conceded more than 50 points in two of those losses ? to Catalans Dragons and Warrington ? and are just four points above bottom side Wigan but Ward, for one, remains upbeat.
Ward said: ?We know how we performed was very poor, it?s not been up to the standards we have set ourselves.
?The spirit in the camp is very positive, you have days like that and you have got to react to it in a positive way.?
The Tigers could again field assistant coach Brad Davis, the veteran half-back who last week came out of retirement to become Super League?s oldest player at 38.
Leeds? winter recruit Mark O?Neill could finally make his competitive debut after overcoming the shoulder injury he sustained in his first pre-season friendly.
The ex-Wests Tigers prop, who won an NRL Grand Final last year, is included in Tony Smith?s squad but centre Chev Walker and winger Lee Smith have failed to prove their fitness.
Leeds suffered a narrow loss to Bradford and then ground out a hard-fought win against Salford over Easter but the coach has warned they will not be able to ease up tonight despite the Tigers? lowly position.
Smith said: ?I am sure it will be a different game to our last game against them back in March.
?They have got a few more experienced bodies back on board now and have picked up a couple of good results since then.
?Like ourselves, they lost their last home game and will be looking to put in a good performance to show that that was just a bad day at the office.?
Leeds 18-man: Mathers, Donald, Senior, McGuire, Burrow, Bailey, Diskin, Peacock, Lauitiiti, Ellis, Poching, O?Neill, Jones-Buchanan, Scruton, Kirke, Williams, Gibson, Tansey.
Castleford 18-man: Platt, Pryce, Dyer, Kain, Henderson, Nutley, Haughey, Roarty, Bird, Huby, Whitaker, Viane, Fa?aoso, Manu, Franze, McGoldrick, Ward, Davis.
Referee: R Laughton