CASTLEFORD Tigers will not be rushed into appointing a successor to Terry Matterson, but have already started their search for a new head coach.
Former Great Britain coach Brian Noble (pictured), Hull KR boss Justin Morgan and Wakefield’s John Kear have been linked to the job – with the bookies making Noble the even money favourite – while the club could look closer to home to replace Matterson with his assistant, Andy Hay, thought to be on a list of candidates being considered.
Matterson confirmed this week that he was leaving at the end of the season after six years in charge and chief executive Richard Wright said the job of finding a replacement was already under way.
Wright said that he had not yet spoken to any candidates about the post, but he confirmed there had been some interest from “quality” coaches in England and overseas.
He praised Matterson for the work he had done with Castleford.
“Terry has brought a level of professionalism to the club that is required at this level,” he said.
“He has guided us to become a competitive force in Super League and we wish him all the best in his future endeavours.
“Meanwhile, our aims are to secure a home play-off draw and to make the Wembley cup final. We remain in a position to meet those aims and we will be fully focused on doing so.”
Matterson, 44, joined the club in 2005 for the 2006 season and has overseen steady development that has lifted the club from relegation to regular top eight candidates.
He told the Express: “I think it’s time. I’m proud of the work we’ve done here and the growth the club has experienced in my time, to go from a relegation team to a middle of the table team.
“We played some semi-final footy a couple of years ago, we just missed out last year and we’re right in the mix this year and I’m confident we’ll play semi-finals again.
“That’s what we wanted to do and I think it’s time to move for me and to look for a new challenge.
“It has been challenging at Castleford, but we’ve certainly made some steps in the right direction.
“When I came here we’d just been promoted and only had 13 players on the books at the end of November. We had a lot of work to do and did a wonderful job actually in the first year, but just came up short in the last game and went down on 19 points.
“That was disappointing, but we fought hard the next year, got back up and got the Super League licence. We built that year, but we played a lot of kids in 2008 then bought heavily in 2009 and made the semi-finals. It’s been a steady progression.
“There’s been one eye on the next franchise, obviously quite a bit of money has gone into that with the new stadium – and that’s understandable.
“But what we’ve done is concentrate on looking from within. Everyone can see how many kids have come through and against Wigan we had eight homegrown players in the 17.
“It’s definitely an achievement to be at a club six seasons and I’ve loved my time here. I’ve made some wonderful friends and I’ve really enjoyed working with all the players, the coaching staff and the board. I’ve been grateful for the opportunity and I wish the club all the best.”
Matterson hopes to be able to bow out on a high with some big games still to come in 2011.
He said: “I’d like to think that the highlight of my time will be coming in the next few months.
“The highlight has been the emergence of all the young kids and the development we’ve done, but I’d like to think as far as results we’ve got a real opportunity to achieve more this year.
“We’ve got a quarter-final in the Challenge Cup and a chance to go further in that competition and there’s a place in semi-final football again to play for as well.”
Matterson does not yet know where he will be working next year, although he would like to join the coaching staff of an NRL club.
He added: “We’re moving on from Castleford. The likelihood is that we’ll be moving back to Australia, but it remains to be seen.
“We really haven’t had time to sort anything out yet and we’ve got a really busy programme so I’ve been concentrating on preparing the team for the two games this week.”