Castleford Tigers’ head coach Daryl Powell will look to inflict more misery on his former player Dave Furner this Thursday – but is still backing his counterpart to turn things around for ailing Leeds Rhinos.
Tigers visit Emerald Headingley seeking to cause further problems for their derby rivals who surprisingly sit bottom of Super League.
The appointment of former Australia assistant Furner was supposed to help transform Leeds’s fortunes after twice finishing in the bottom four during the last three years.
However, despite a raft of high-profile signings things have not gone according to plan so far for the former Canberra Raiders star, who was a Leeds player during Powell’s own reign in charge at the West Yorkshire club.
Having lost seven of their opening eight games the pressure is mounting for Furner in his first season at the helm, but Powell believes he will be given time to succeed.
“They are a pretty loyal club when you look at what they do with their coaches,” Powell explained.
“I am pretty sure he will turn it around. I coached Dave in 2003; he is a real smart man and pretty durable as well.
“He’ll just keep getting on with his work.
“It is still early days. I know they have played one more game than us, but they are all right – they are coming after teams.
“They have been pretty aggressive with their carries and are in games at the moment, so they are difficult to beat.
“But they are getting beat and they will need to turn that around obviously. We’re hoping that’s not going to be on Thursday.”
Furner, 49, joined Leeds from Wigan in 2003 and reached a Challenge Cup final with them before – after Tony Smith had succeeded Powell – winning their first Grand Final at Old Trafford the following year.
“He was a very opinionated player; he had his ideas about what he wanted to do,” recalled Powell.
“I was like that as a player as well. He understood the game pretty well and played the game at the top level; he was an Australian international and they don’t come easy.
“He was an outstanding goal-kicker and a great leader as well.
“When you’ve got those sorts of characteristics there’s a decent chance you’re going to be a coach and he has proven that to be the case. We have got to make sure we are good enough to beat them, but Leeds are a big club, they’ve got some good players in there.
“They are in a difficult position at the moment – not one they’d want to be in – but they will keep working towards where they want to be.”
Leeds’s hopes of emerging from a five-game losing sequence have not been helped after former England second-row Brett Ferres was handed a two-game ban for use of the knees in Saturday’s 26-22 loss at Catalans Dragons.
Castleford are keen to make amends themselves after Friday’s sobering 42-12 home loss to leaders St Helens, admittedly only their second defeat so far.
Their England international Adam Milner did not train yesterday so he is a doubt as is fellow loose forward Nathan Massey, who came off with a wrist injury.