SUCH is his long relationship with Francis Cummins, it is inevitable Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell feels some sympathy for his Bradford Bulls counterpart.
The pair were team-mates when Leeds Rhinos last won the Challenge Cup in 1999 and, later, Powell made Cummins his captain when he took over the main role at Headingley.
Tomorrow, though, they are adversaries as Castleford head to a Bradford side looking to stride clear from the wreckage of administration for the second time in just 18 months.
“It’s not great to see a rugby league club struggling,” admitted Powell. “We’ve got a fantastic game and outstanding clubs within all levels of rugby league.
“You want the game to be prospering and all clubs, as a result of the game being vibrant, to be prospering, too.
“We feel for them and the predicament they’ve been in and you wouldn’t wish it on anybody.
“I do feel for Franny but I think he’s dealt with it exceptionally well. It’s hit him twice now, once as an assistant (at Bradford) and now as a head coach.
“It’s disappointing that the game finds itself with clubs in the predicament that Bradford are and, hopefully, it won’t happen too many times this season.”
That said, Powell is hoping to see his Castleford side heap on more misery at Odsal.
They made the same trip to vanquish Bradford 66-10 in a friendly less than a fortnight ago but he insists that will only have relevance for the hosts tomorrow.
“We spoke about that straight away after that game as, obviously, when you put a score on somebody, the motivation moves to their side,” explained the ex-Great Britain centre, starting his first full season at Wheldon Road having moved from Featherstone last May.
“There’s going to be no resting on that performance and feeling like all we’ll have to do is turn up and the job will be done.
“We know Bradford will come out and be much stiffer opposition.”
Castleford are set to give debuts to Marc Sneyd, Frankie Mariano, Scott Wheeldon and Liam Finn while Luke Dorn and Andy Lynch will start their second spells with the club.
Bradford give debuts to close-season signings Adam Henry, Luke George and Lee Gaskell and on-loan recruit Danny Bridge comes straight in after joining from Warrington.