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Craig Lingard: Castleford Tigers head coach not focused on old club Batley Bulldogs in cup reunion

Castleford Tigers head coach Craig Lingard has no time for sentiment in Saturday's return to former club Batley Bulldogs in the Challenge Cup.

Lingard is a bona-fide legend at Batley with 142 tries in 205 games, a terrace named after him and a successful coaching spell to boot.

His Tigers side, winless in Super League, are keen to avoid an upset.

"I'm not being disrespectful to Batley, but I'm not thinking about them this week," Lingard told BBC Radio Leeds.

"I'm thinking about Castleford. I'm at Castleford now. I spent a lot of time at Batley and made a lot of good friends there through playing, through coaching, just being involved with the club.

"There will be a time and a place to catch up with them and enjoy their company.

"But up until the final whistle, my involvement and my focus is purely on Castleford."

The famous slope at the Fox's Biscuit Stadium is something Lingard, and some ex-Bulldogs players in the ranks such as Luke Hooley and Josh Hodson, know well.

While Lingard has yet to taste victory with Castleford in 2024, with five defeats in their opening five Super League games, there were green shoots in the display against Catalans Dragons in Perpignan last week.

Meanwhile, their opponents reached the 1895 Cup quarter-finals before bowing out to Sheffield, while they also accounted for Widnes Vikings and Rochdale Hornets to reach this phase of the Challenge Cup.

They were narrowly beaten 24-20 by Featherstone in their Championship season opener last weekend.

Mark Moxon was handed the reins after Lingard's departure last year, and the reunion with such a familiar face will be an interesting sub-plot of the tie.

"It's sport, professional sport, you get these contests," Lingard added. "I had it with John Kear when he was at Bradford and Widnes so it's a situation I'm used to.

"I have a lot of respect for 'Mokko', he's a fantastic coach, a great bloke and fully deserves the opportunity he's got.

"He's got them ticking this year just as I knew he would do."