Lee Radford is excited by the potential in the Castleford Tigers squad as he prepares to take over from Daryl Powell at the end of the 2021 Super League season.
The former Hull FC coach was confirmed as Warrington Wolves-bound Powell’s successor earlier this week, signing a contract that covers both the 2022 and 2023 seasons.
Radford was on hand to watch Castleford’s 28-18 win over Salford Red Devils in Super League on Friday evening as guest pundit on Sky Sports‘ live coverage of the match, and before kick-off he spoke about how he believes there is a strong base to build on at the Tigers.
“There are a lot of players out of contract leading up to the end of the season, but I don’t think it’s a rebuild,” Radford told Sky Sports.
“I think the squad itself has been there or thereabouts under Daryl and the good work he has done, so that was really appealing – and what the club is a little bit as well, I suppose.
“They’ve almost been in that ‘best of the rest’ bracket for the last couple of seasons. Some of the rugby playing in 2017 was some of the best I’ve seen in the Super League era.
“I don’t think it needs major changes, I just think one or two tweaks and bring some of the younger players through to see what we can do with those boys.”
I don’t think it needs major changes, I just think one or two tweaks and bring some of the younger players through to see what we can do with those boys.
Lee Radford on Castleford’s squad
Although Radford’s appointment was only officially confirmed on Tuesday, the 42-year-old has already been inundated with calls from agents and has wasted little time in getting down to business.
His first step will be to get his backroom staff in place, followed by starting to put his playing squad together for 2022.
“When it was announced, with the amount of players off-contract, the phone started ringing straight away with the agents calling, and I wanted to introduce myself,” Radford said.
“It’s a surreal situation; Daryl is doing a great job and has got a job to do, but I wanted to introduce myself to the players, and I know offers have gone out and extensions have been offered.
“But I wanted to talk to the squad, and hopefully in the next few weeks I can get my backroom staff sorted out and move onto players from there.”
Radford, who guided Hull FC to Challenge Cup success in 2016 and 2017, had initially been set for a switch to rugby union as defence coach with Dallas Jackals in the USA’s Major League Rugby competition.
But with the Jackals opting to defer their entry into MLR to next year due to the Covid-19 pandemic, Radford has now decided on a return to Super League with Castleford.
“I never thought I’d say this publicly, but I really enjoyed the company of my family!” joked Radford. “It made leaving and packing up all that more difficult and when the opportunity came from Castleford, I jumped at it.”
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