Castleford coach Daryl Powell is urging his players to hold their nerve as they seek to carve out a place in history.

The Tigers have already claimed the League Leaders’ Shield after topping the table for the first time in their 91 years and on Saturday will aim to become only the fifth club to win a Grand Final when they take on seven-times champions Leeds at Old Trafford.

Powell’s men are favourites, having beaten their arch rivals four times already this year, but the odds have shifted in the wake of the club’s decision to axe full-back Zak Hardaker for an unspecified breach of club rules and the coach has spent the last 24 hours revising his game plan.

Hardaker is one of only three Tigers players with Grand-Final experience but Powell organised a tour of the stadium on Monday, followed by an overnight stay in Manchester, to ease that unfamiliarity and is now hoping a return to normality can help finish the job.

“We’ll come over on the day on Saturday and try and treat this like any other week because I think the composure and calmness is something that is going to be absolutely key for us,” said Powell, who played in the inaugural 1998 Grand Final for Leeds.

“If we’ve got cool heads on Saturday night, I think we will be in a fantastic place.”

Powell, named this week as Super League coach of the year, hailed the League Leaders’ Shield as “the biggest prize” but says winning the Grand Final is an opportunity to achieve something special.

“For me, the consistency across the year is unbelievably important,” he said. “But this is a one-off game where it’s about nerve as much as anything and getting your game right on one night. And that’s it, you’re done, see you later. There’s no second chances.

“It’s a great opportunity for us. It’s such an iconic stadium, the crowd is amazing and the roar is the biggest I’ve ever heard in the sport that I’ve played for a lot of years. To be able to do it on that stage would cap it off for us as an outstanding rugby league team.

“You talk about dreams and blokes don’t often go for that stuff but I think it’s important. I think we’ve created a vision of achieving something special and we’re on the cusp of it.

“We went to a Challenge Cup final in 2014 and didn’t get the job done but I think this team is a fair bit more mature than that one.”

The loss of Hardaker, whose return to form in 2017 was recognised with his runners-up spot behind newly-crowned Man of Steel Luke Gale, has clearly made the task tougher but Castleford have become accustomed to overcoming setbacks.

The build-up to the season was overshadowed by the acrimonious departure of Denny Solomona, who scored a Super League record 40 tries in 2016, while Rangi Chase was twice suspended over separate incidents before being transferred to Widnes, where he subsequently failed a drugs test.

The town, too, has suffered its share of disappointment in recent years but the revival in the fortunes of its rugby league team has put the smile back on the faces of its inhabitants and more than half the 40,000 population will be cheering their team on in Manchester.

“It’s a huge coal mining area,” said Powell, a local man. “That’s not there any more and the central point of it is Castleford Tigers.

“I think we’ve given everybody in the town something to feel pretty happy about this season and we want to cap it off. It’s going to be pretty quiet in Castleford on Saturday because of what these guys have been able to do this year.

“That means a helluva lot to us and to bring trophy to Castleford on Sunday, you can’t put into words how special that would be. It would cap off everything that I’ve done in my career.”