The news that Daryl Powell will be leaving Castleford at the end of 2021 has sent the rumour mill into overdrive about who will replace him.
With the ex-Featherstone and Leeds boss going into his eighth full season with the Tigers, Powell claimed the time is right for a change even if it has come as a shock for Castleford fans.
But, just who are the seven contenders to replace Powell?
Though his aims at Bradford are clear – to earn promotion – John Kear’s heart remains in one place – his hometown club Castleford. Kear played for the Tigers for ten years before stepping into coaching roles at Hull FC, Wakefield and Batley. And, having masterminded Challenge Cup success with Sheffield and Hull, there’s no reason why he couldn’t do the same with a more formidable squad at Castleford. He knows the game superbly well, is incredibly passionate and would rejuvenate a stagnant Tigers.
After falling foul to the managerial dangers, Lee Radford has been without a job for almost a year. Being sacked on live television is not exactly the best way to go and it must have hit the former Hull boss hard. He did, however, guide FC to back-to-back Challenge Cup victories in 2016 and 2017 – a feat which will never be forgotten on Humberside. Radford installed a forward-heavy focus on his side, something which the Tigers could need after being bullied in the middle for most of last season. May be an unpopular choice, but Radford would certainly bolster the Castleford pack.
The cheapest option – with no disrespect to Ryan Sheridan – would be to promote the assistant. Having been with Powell at Featherstone and Castleford since the beginning, former halfback Sheridan knows the ins and outs at the Jungle which could either be a blessing or a nightmare. Perhaps the Tigers need fresh blood after what will be eight-and-a-half seasons, but Sheridan must be wanting a top job sooner or later. Failing that, Sheridan may leave with Powell wherever the latter decides to hang his hat next.
James Ford already knows his way around the Jungle, having played for Castleford in 2009. His first and only coaching job so far has been at York, where a 70% win rate has drawn the attention of top clubs. It may take a lot to persuade Ford to leave the Knights where he is on the way to building something special, but the pull of an established top-flight club could prove to be the tonic. The former three-quarter would bring a great deal of enthusiasm and youthful insight to the Tigers, but it would be difficult to prove that he would be a success in Super League.
He was a vocal critic of Castleford’s facilities when in charge of Wigan, but Shaun Wane would perhaps be the best – and right – man for the vacancy. A Grand Final winner three times with the Warriors, Wane knows what it takes to win finals – something which Castleford have struggled to do under Powell. Plus, being in charge of England would not be too much of a distraction considering the lack of international tests throughout the season.
Having been London boss since 2018, Danny Ward’s stock has risen considerably. He earned promotion in his first season, beating favourites Toronto 4-2 away from home. Though the Broncos were relegated from Super League in 2019 by points difference, Ward earned numerous plaudits for the way he got the capital club firing. It would be a risk for Castleford, but one that could pay off massively.
With the future of Toronto Wolfpack up in the air, so is the future of Brian McDermott. Really not given a chance to show his credentials with another Super League side, the former Leeds boss could be persuaded to return to management in the top-flight if the Tigers come calling. Boasting a CV that other coaches look at in envy, McDermott would certainly bring a trophy-winning pedigree to the Jungle. It remains to be seen though if McDermott would cross the city to take charge of the Rhinos’ noisy neighbours.