CASTLEFORD Tigers’ Daryl Powell, a massive favourite to win Super League coach of the year given the manner in which he has transformed their fortunes, has signed a new, improved deal keeping him at Wheldon Road until the end of 2019.
It is no surprise Castleford chief executive Steve Gill has been working hard at securing the 48-year-old’s signature for the long-term. Ahead of tonight’s game at Wigan, they sit third and are just 80 minutes away from a first Wembley appearance since 1992 after last week’s heroic Challenge Cup quarter-final win at the home of the same opponents.
Powell joined a little over a year ago after a long spell out of the elite, first with Leeds Tykes and then at Featherstone Rovers, but he has proved his value for Castleford, instilling a sense of belief and freedom to play that has generated some quality football.
Now the ex-Great Britain centre hopes to make them “one of the top clubs” in the country and end their 20-year wait for glory.
“That’s the journey we’re on,” said Powell, who had a year remaining on his deal. “We need to be one of the teams challenging for honours in both comps.
“We’ve had a great start and in terms of the future it is about continuing that culture we have got in place and continually striving to be better in everything we do.”
Adam Milner, meanwhile, will endeavour to revive his own season tonight after getting a rare chance back in Castleford colours. The homegrown hooker, 22, has been a regular in recent years but the eye-catching form of England call-up Daryl Clark and improved displays from converted scrum-half Jamie Ellis have seen him marginalised of late.
However, he gets chance to impress tonight as Castleford seek to replicate Saturday’s epic win.
“It has been a bit of a tough year for me after two ankle ops in the off-season,” said Milner.
“That set me back a bit. I missed a lot of pre-season and struggled performance wise.
“The competition for places here is plenty in every position and I know Jamie can play at nine so that’s kept me on my toes.
“It’s been hard but I’ve got a chance now to get back playing and I need a performance. Everyone wants to play in that semi against Widnes too.”