New season countdown: Daryl Powell focused on final season at Castleford
Super League’s longest-serving coach Daryl Powell says he is open minded about his future beyond 2021 but for now is focused on enjoying his final season with Castleford.
The 55-year-old former Leeds and Featherstone coach last week announced his shock decision to step down from the Tigers hot seat at the end of the season, insisting the time is right after eight years in the job.
Powell was immediately linked with a move to Warrington, who will bid a fond farewell to Steve Price at the end of the year, but he was loathe to fuel the speculation ahead of Sunday’s opening league fixture with the Wolves.
“I’m open minded,” he told a preview press conference on Wednesday. “I’m not here to talk about that too much, I’m here to talk about the game against Warrington.
“I said to the players the other day, one of my focus points for this year is that I want to enjoy their company and I want to every game and every training session because I want my last year to be a good one on every single front.
“You might even see me smile at a game this year.”
Powell revealed there was some emotion when he broke the news of his impending departure to his players.
“A few boys were a little bit shocked,” he said. “I have spoken to a few of them since. There were a couple of hugs, I said ‘save all that sloppiness until the end of the year when we’ve won something’.”
Castleford captain Michael Shenton says Powell has earned the right to leave his home-town club on his terms and says the players will be motivated to send him out on a high by winning the Grand Final.
“We’ve got a real close relationship so I had known for a couple of weeks but I think a few of the boys were shocked,” Shenton said. “It’s hard to imagine him moving on, he’s been here a long time now.
“He’s done one helluva job for us, transforming us on and off the field, so you can’t blame him.
“It makes this year a little bit more special. There’s a few reasons that this year needs to be a special and that’s definitely one.
“I don’t think he wants that to deflect on what our job is this year. All the focus is now on getting off to a good start.”
Powell says the club need to improve their facilities but he believes the team is in good shape and he will be happy to offer some input on the choice of his successor.
“I think whoever takes it on will have a pretty good job on their hands because it’s a special place to come,” he said.
“If they ask me, I’ll give advice. Mark (managing director Mark Grattan) asked me the other day and we’ve had a couple of chats but they’ve got to go through their own process to select who they think is the right person.
“Certainly I would want to help if they ask me.”