Castleford Tigers begin search for new coach: ex-boss Lee Radford linked with NRL move
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The former Hull boss joined Tigers ahead of the 2022 season and his departure comes just three games into the new season, with Castleford yet to get off the mark.
A club statement said Radford had been “relieved of his duties by mutual agreement” and confirmed Last will take the reins for Friday’s betfred Super League game at Huddersfield Giants.
Last was assistant to Radford at Hull and had a spell as caretaker boss in similar circumstances there three years ago.
He moved to Wakefield as second in command when not offered the full-time post in East Yorkshire and then rejoined Radford at Tigers.
The Cas statement quoted Radford saying: “With the club and myself heading in different directions, I think making this early call will be the correct one.
"Hopefully, it can kick start their season starting this Friday away at Huddersfield. I’d like to thank on record the fans, management, coaching staff and players and wish them all the best for 2023 and beyond.”
The Evening Post understands Radford told the club in pre-season he would not be staying on after the end of his contract this autumn.
His exit now avoids a repeat of the situation two years ago when then-boss Daryl Powell announced his departure early in the campaign, but stayed in post until the end of the season.
With a host of players in the final year of their contract, Radford’s early departure will allow a new coach to begin team building for 2024.
Radford was defence coach with Samoa when they reached the final of last year’s World Cup and his success in that role could have paved the way for a move to Australia/New Zealand’s NRL, in an assistant’s position.
Tigers’ statement added: “Everyone at the club would like to thank Lee for his time in charge of the first team.
“The club's board of directors will now begin the search for its next permanent head coach and would ask everyone to get behind Andy Last and the team in the interim period.”
Former Tigers player and assistant-coach Danny Orr, who left Salford’s backroom staff at the end of last season, is likely to be a leading candidate for the Castleford hot seat.
Ex-York boss and Castleford player James Ford, who is now an assistant at Wakefield Trinity, could be another candidate, along with Danny Ward.
Ward had a spell as a player with Tigers and coached London Broncos in Super League four years ago.
Tigers finished seventh last year after an injury-ravaged campaign and have lost all three competitive games in 2023.