IT IS safe to say the part of his first experience as head coach that Castleford Tigers’ Danny Orr is most looking forward to ahead of tomorrow’s Super League game against Widnes Vikings is probably the warm-up.
That may sound a little bizarre. More often than not, head coaches do not really take part in that aspect of preparation, other than perhaps to cast an observatory glance over things without ever getting close to dirtying their suit.
But, then again, Orr is not your usual head coach. The scrum-half only retired from playing at the end of last season having played almost 300 games for his childhood heroes Castleford and also represented Wigan, Harlequins and Great Britain with some distinction.
He joined the backroom staff at Tigers to earn his stripes as a coach, swapping captaincy of the club to work dutifully under the watchful eye of chief Ian Millward and assistant Stuart Donlan.
However, just 11 games into this season, with the West Yorkshire club rooted to the foot of the table with only one win, that duo was axed on Tuesday and rookie Orr suddenly found himself promoted and in charge of team affairs on a temporary basis.
It has, understandably, been a hectic week and the 34-year-old has had little time to catch his breath let alone contemplate much more.
But he readily admits matchday is when he misses playing most and the chance to get out on that beloved Wheldon Road turf to kick a few balls around in the pre-game practice is something he won’t be relinquishing.
“Nothing will change,” says Orr. “I’ll be out on the field with the boys doing the warm-up.
“It’s the best part of the week for me getting back out there and having a kickaround.
“I don’t see why that should alter just because I’ve got the title of head coach.
“Then we’ll go in, have a little chat and I’ll probably be up in the gantry for the game itself. It is a really good view from up there.
“The boys have been great since everything happened. They’ve trained well and, speaking to them in and around sessions, they say they’ve taken plenty out of what we’ve done.”
As much as Orr would love to eventually become head coach of his hometown club, he accepts the timing now is not right.
Undoubtedly, with his footballing brain, understanding of the game and personable skills, he has many of the attributes required and it runs in the family to a degree.
His father Paul, the prop who played for Castleford in the 1970s, was Leeds academy coach when the likes of Graham Holroyd, Marcus Vassilakopoulos, Francis Cummins and Matt Cook were on the Headingley books before he switched to Wheldon Road where, with his son emerging, he led Tigers to the Academy championship.
Orr said: “I’ve always said I’d like to be a head coach one day, but every good coach I’ve spoken to over the years has said you need to learn the trade by doing an apprenticeship.
“I believe I was doing that under ‘Basil’ and Stuey and I was thoroughly enjoying it.
“I’d say it takes three or four years to become a head coach – in Australia a lot longer, perhaps you are looking at seven or eight years – but I’m hoping it’s not going to be that long.
“It’s something that has come about and I’ve got to deal with it the best way I can.
“This is probably a good experience for me. I have joked about if we win the next 10 games then things might change but I’ve told (CEO) Steve (Gill) I’ll do the best I can for as long as I’m needed, whether it’s one week, three months or whatever.
“If I was asked to do it for the rest of the season, that’s what I would do.”
Huddersfield Giants head coach Paul Anderson, another proud Castlefordian, has been in touch to offer support just days after his side’s 40-24 win spelt the end for Millward
“He rang me up wishing me well and I appreciated that,” Orr said. “I had a good chat with him.
“He’s been in similar situations (temporary coach at Huddersfield) and he’s learnt a lot.
“He’s given me some advice which I will keep to myself, but I’ve known ‘Baloo’ for a long time.
“We played together for Yorkshire and Great Britain and it was nice he went out of his way to do that.”
He has not made too many changes to the gameplan for tomorrow’s eminently winnable televised fixture.
“It’s a tough one,” added Orr.
“If I was to start implementing all my ideas, I think it would be suicide.
“The lads are still learning the things that Basil put in place.
“If I go and mix it all up and then a new coach comes in in a month’s time or whatever and throws his ideas in, the lads won’t know whether they’re coming or going.
“I don’t think much needs to change – just a couple of things maybe – because the guys are not that far away.
“We know the results haven’t been good and where we are in the table doesn’t look good.
“But there’s been more than glimpses this season of us performing to a very high standard.
“The problem we’ve had is doing it consistently for long periods in games.
“The main thing I want to do is to get the lads enjoying it. I think when you are doing things with smiles on your faces you’ll perform better.
“For a few of them, their form has not been where it was a few weeks ago so they’re a bit down in the dumps but I’ve tried to lift that and hopefully we’ll see that come Saturday night.”
Meanwhile, Gill has intimated they will not be pursuing the unnamed Australian forward Millward was closing in on last week, insisting the club does not need any more back-rows.
Also, amid heightened speculation the England star could finally be off to St George Illawarra, he also admitted if the right offer does come in for Rangi Chase it will be accepted.