Just three games into the season, Castleford Tigers shocked everyone by parting company with Lee Radford.
Many were shocked by the decision with rumours that he had a job lined up in the NRL for 2024 and now Cas star Greg Eden has had his say believing Radford should have been given longer but saying that Radford was going to leave at the end of 2023 either way.
“I think obviously last year when Radford came in we lost the first five games and then same again this year but they’ve sacked him quite early. I think they should have gave him a few more weeks or another month or whatever,” he said on the Fully Game YouTube channel.
“I think they were wanting to know what was going on for 2024 and I think he’d said he was going elsewhere, or he’s finished at Cas and they’ve thought to get ahead of that.”
In the end, Andy Last has been appointed as his replacement and he said on the Tigers’ website:
“I am absolutely over the moon! I have been waiting for an opportunity as a head coach for a number of years now and I feel as though I have served my apprenticeship working alongside some outstanding coaches whom I have learned a great deal from.
“I’m looking forward to putting my mark on Castleford over the next two and a half years. It’s a very honest and hardworking club which is steeped in a rich history, and you look at the players who have represented Castleford Tigers over the years, there have been some fantastic players who have worn the shirt. I’m looking forward to influencing the current group of players that we have and putting my stamp on things moving forward.”
The Tigers are historically a team that enjoys playing a creative, off-the-cuff brand of rugby and Fords supporters will be excited to hear that Last aims to replicate that style with players who look to carve the opposition open.
“I want us to be more creative and I want us to be playing with more shape. We want to really encourage the players to support the ball carrier and I want us to be moving the ball quickly east to west with strike plays on the edges.
“We have got some creative players at the moment, but we just need to implement a couple of tweaks and adjustments to get us playing the way we want to play. We want to make sure we entertain and be brave enough to find that pass or offload. I think defensively over the last three or four weeks we have been showing a better desire to stop the opposition from scoring.
“What we need to do is try and find that energy and enthusiasm when we’ve got the ball and to make a little more of it when we are attacking.”
The Tigers’ new Head Coach put forward what he will be looking for in terms of retention and recruitment for 2024 and beyond.
“The main factor when we make recruitment or retention decisions is whether they will improve Castleford Tigers, will they help us to be competitive and win more games. I’ve made no secret that there are big decisions to be made going forward but I think a big thing for us is looking at the profile of the squad and making sure we recruit the best fit in terms of outside backs who are going to be creative from an attacking point of view, and a forward pack that is dynamic with leg speed.
“It’s about that blend of having experienced heads alongside players who have their best years ahead of them and it’s important that supporters know that the decisions made will be in the best interests of the club not only in the short term but in the long term too.”