KEVIN SINFIELD says Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell does not get the acknowledgment he warrants for the sterling work he did putting Leeds Rhinos on course for greatness.
Since Powell was replaced by Tony Smith as Leeds chief in 2003, they have progressed from serial under-achievers to win six Grand Finals and three World Club Challenges.
At the age of just 35, Powell moved directly from playing at Headingley to taking over from the failing Dean Lance in April 2001.
He introduced a raft of youngsters who went on to form the bedrock of future glories and also made Sinfield his captain, but stepped aside to make way for Smith’s arrival.
Leeds won their first league title in 32 years the following season, starting a stunning run of unparalleled success, although they have still not won the Challenge Cup since ex-Great Britain international Powell featured at stand-off in the 1999 victory over London Broncos.
“It’s probably fair to say Daryl doesn’t get the credit he deserves,” admitted Sinfield, as he prepares to try to deny his former coach success in tomorrow’s Wembley showpiece.
“He put some things in place, certainly with the youth, that have continued.
“Who’s to say Daryl would have done what Tony Smith did? I don’t know. It’s hypothetical.
“I know Tony was fantastic and great for us at the time, but Daryl was as well so it’s difficult to look back at that period and judge it.
“We won trophies and we could have had the same outcome under Daryl, I’m not sure.”
Castleford finished 12th last term, but are now in their first Challenge Cup final for more than 20 years and are seeking a maiden Grand Final, too.
“It’s remarkable; Daryl’s definitely Coach of the Year to be able to do what he’s done,” said Sinfield.
“He’s revitalised the whole town and really got the best out of the players they have.
“Cas have got some fantastic players – don’t get me wrong – but they’re playing nine out of 10 every week and for a coach to be able to do that is superb.
“I like him a lot. I played with him, have been coached by him and he made me captain.
“Hopefully we can be good enough on Saturday to get the result we want. It’s just a shame it’s against Daryl.”