'Absolutely over the moon': Andy Last ready to put stamp on Castleford Tigers after landing permanent job

Andy Last has landed his first head coach role after being confirmed as Lee Radford's permanent successor at Castleford Tigers on a two-and-a-half-year contract.

The 42-year-old took over on a temporary basis following Radford's sudden departure in early March and has eased the club's early-season relegation fears.

Last was formally interviewed last week and convinced the Castleford hierarchy that he is the man to take the club forward.

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Former London Broncos boss Danny Ward and ex-Hull KR head coach Justin Morgan were among the other candidates considered by the Tigers.

Last, who joined Hull FC's staff at the age of 23, has made no secret of his desire to become a head coach.

He missed out on the Hull job in 2020 despite leading the club to the play-off semi-finals after taking over from Radford on an interim basis.

Last left to join Wakefield Trinity as an assistant before linking back up with Radford at Castleford at the end of the 2021 season.

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The England assistant is relishing the opportunity to put his stamp on a club after ending his long wait for a top job.

Andy Last has been given the opportunity to lead Castleford Tigers on a permanent basis. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)Andy Last has been given the opportunity to lead Castleford Tigers on a permanent basis. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)
Andy Last has been given the opportunity to lead Castleford Tigers on a permanent basis. (Photo: Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com)

“I am absolutely over the moon," said Last.

"I have been waiting for an opportunity as a head coach for a number of years now and I feel as though I have served my apprenticeship working alongside some outstanding coaches whom I have learned a great deal from.

“I’m looking forward to putting my mark on Castleford over the next two and a half years.

"It’s a very honest and hardworking club which is steeped in a rich history. There have been some fantastic players who have worn the shirt."

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Lee Radford left Wheldon Road in early March. (Photo: John Clifton/SWpix.com)Lee Radford left Wheldon Road in early March. (Photo: John Clifton/SWpix.com)
Lee Radford left Wheldon Road in early March. (Photo: John Clifton/SWpix.com)

Crucial victories over Leeds Rhinos and winless Wakefield have given the Tigers a four-point cushion at the bottom, although Castleford lost Last's other four matches in interim charge and struggled for points along the way.

The Tigers are averaging just 10 points a game under Last after suffering a 14-6 defeat at Salford Red Devils in round nine.

Last understands the need to entertain as well as win games of rugby league.

“I want us to be more creative and I want us to be playing with more shape," he added.

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Castleford paid the price for an error-strewn display at Salford Red Devils. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)Castleford paid the price for an error-strewn display at Salford Red Devils. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)
Castleford paid the price for an error-strewn display at Salford Red Devils. (Photo: Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com)

"We want to really encourage the players to support the ball carrier and I want us to be moving the ball quickly east to west with strike plays on the edges.

“We have got some creative players at the moment but we just need to implement a couple of tweaks and adjustments to get us playing the way we want to play.

"We want to make sure we entertain and be brave enough to find that pass or offload. I think defensively over the last three or four weeks we have been showing a better desire to stop the opposition from scoring.

“What we need to do is try and find that energy and enthusiasm when we’ve got the ball and to make a little more of it when we are attacking.”

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Last has already begun reshaping his squad after raiding Hull KR to sign Luis Johnson on an initial season-long loan and Will Tate in a long-term agreement.

With 14 Castleford players approaching the end of their contract, Last is set to oversee an overhaul.

“The main factor when we make recruitment or retention decisions is whether they will improve Castleford Tigers – will they help us to be competitive and win more games?,” he said.

"I’ve made no secret that there are big decisions to be made going forward but I think a big thing for us is looking at the profile of the squad and making sure we recruit the best fit in terms of outside backs who are going to be creative from an attacking point of view and a forward pack that is dynamic with leg speed.

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“It’s about that blend of having experienced heads alongside players who have their best years ahead of them.

"It’s important that supporters know that the decisions made will be in the best interests of the club, not only in the short term but in the long term too.”

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