Daryl Powell: “I love them and I love the way they play”

It’s two wins from two games for Castleford in 2021 and head coach Daryl Powell could not be happier.

“The boys have been awesome, they were really tough today particularly on the back of a five-day turnaround,” Powell stated.

“We only trained yesterday and only had a team run, so I thought physically we battled through that today.

“I don’t think we were ever at our best with the ball, but we were courageous to win the game. It’s been a tough start, but we’ve done a great job with it.”

To match his first try-scorer instincts from round one, Oliver Holmes backed that up with another try, but Powell claims he is not surprised after the forward’s pre-season.

“Looking at him physically, I haven’t seen him in as good shape from a physical perspective.

“What he’s done in pre-season has set him up for what he’s delivering and he’s justified his man-of-the-match and its great to see him do so well.”

Defensively, Powell could not have been happier what his side put on display, but he was keen for his players to remain calm in key positions.

“I had more to worry from us than what Leeds did! We just needed to get our heads together – we didn’t need to score again, but just needed to ensure they didn’t score again.

“Sometimes in the heat of battle, you get fire in your head, but we need to get that composure back.

“I thought defensively on our try-line, we were outstanding, but I thought we turned the ball over in poor positions which gave them an opportunity to attack us.

“Both of their hookers are really sharp around the ruck area, but it was a fantastic defensive effort.”

With Castleford away at Hull KR in the Challenge Cup on Friday, the Tigers head coach was eager to stress just how important that competition is.

“We need to look after ourselves and review on Sunday, and then we’ve got a couple of training sessions leading into that game.

“You want to win the cup and the competition, and we want to do well in both, so we will be after that next week.

“With the start we’ve had it gives us a platform next week to kick on and it’s a great opportunity to do something special.”

Amongst his 17 players that beat Leeds, Powell singled out new signing Jordan Turner for praise.

“Jordan Turner has been a standout, but Niall (Evalds) didn’t quite get the same opportunities this game.

“Turner, in terms of effort, toughness and work rate, has been a phenomenal signing for us, playing in an unnatural position for himself because of injuries, I think he’s been outstanding.

Touching upon Powell’s departure at the end of the season, the ex-Leeds and Featherstone boss said he was initially concerned about the news would be taken in the playing squad.

“I was worried about when to put that announcement out, I don’t think there’s ever a great time, but I did have some concerns.

“Thankfully, they have been allayed over the past few weeks; I have a great relationship with the boys – I love them and the way they play.”

And, for Powell, the extended pre-season has brought back memories of why the summer game was introduced.

“Our pre-season has been too long, but March is a good idea in a fitness perspective.

“But, it needs to be financially viable for clubs; I look at the conditions we are now training and playing in and that’s what the summer game was about when it first came in.”

Again, the Castleford boss was open-minded about his future.

“You never know whats going to happen.”

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