Daryl Powell is targeting a top eight finish for the Castleford Tigers after officially taking over as head coach this week.
Powell has signed a two-and-a-half year deal with the club he supported as a boy and is delighted to be back in Super League almost 10 years on from his first head coach stint at Leeds Rhinos.
After four-and-a-half successful seasons with neighbours Featherstone Rovers Powell believes the time is right for him to move back into the top flight and he reckons the squad he has inherited at Cas can push on up the table.
He will speak to the players together for the first time today after they wee given a few days off and will tell them that they have it within their capabilities to reach the play-offs despite currently being six points off a top eight place.
He said: “I’m not going to make any massive predictions, but I do believe the squad’s got everything within it to be competitive every single game and get over the line in a lot of those games.
“I don’t see qualifying for the play-offs as being out of the equation. We’re not far behind and when you look at what Wakefield did last year at the back end of the season you can see what can be achieved.
“Six points is not a massive amount. It was a great win at the weekend, which I think sets a platform for the rest of the season.
“Danny Orr’s done an outstanding job. I watched the game against Hull KR and the team looked really strong. There’s some outstanding players in there, playing some great rugby league.
“Obviously it needs toughening up a bit defensively, but the team looks pretty stable to me at the moment and everybody can have a big pat on the back for the way the team’s stabilised over the last few weeks.”
Powell is excited at the challenge ahead and admits that getting the head coach’s role was a dream job for him.
He said: “Not a lot of people know, but I actually went to school in Castleford and I was a Castleford fan as a young man.
“I played amateur rugby at Glasshoughton and then Redhill and lived in Glasshoughton for many years so I’m a Cas lad in lots of ways.
“It’s the ideal job for me. It’s a fantastic opportunity and I’m massively looking forward to the challenge in front of me.
“I didn’t really fear I wouldn’t get back into Super League. I got on with doing my job. Obviously I’ve had a bit of a different apprenticeship if you like. I got a head coach’s role at Leeds probably a bit too early, but since then the apprenticeship’s been a fantastic one and I’ve been through all sorts of experiences that give you the skills set needed to be able to do a head coach’s role in Super League.
“I’ve enjoyed every coaching job I’ve had and enjoyed my time at Featherstone. I can’t speak highly enough of the club.
“There’s been different challenges along the way, this is another one now and I’m really looking forward to it. It’s a fantastic opportunity for me.
“Castleford Tigers are an amazing club that’s got a massive amount going for it and I’m looking forward to getting stuck into the role.
“I want to build the club and I want to be involved from the top to the bottom.”
Powell does not see it as a gamble to go from the top of the Championship to the lower reaches of Super League.
He added: “You go into coaching jobs with your eyes wide open. I see it as an opportunity. It’s ripe for growing all across the board with everything the club does and I feel I can have a big part in that.
“I’ve every confidence the club’s in a strong position moving forward.
“Obviously the sporting climate for a lot of clubs at the moment is difficult. It means that everybody has to work exceptionally hard to make sure things work in the right way.
“If we get the results right that brings more people through the gates and a good feeling about the club. That’s what we really need to be driving then the business looks stronger and you don’t have the issues.
“The key is that the feel good factor needs to be strong at the club. There’s certainly been some fantastic work done recently and I’m looking forward to taking that on to the next level over the coming weeks.”