Castleford Tigers’ Daryl Powell braced for emotional farewell at Wheldon Road
Castleford Tigers head coach Daryl Powell admits he will be emotional tonight but hopes his squad deliver the right balance to ensure his long reign does not end prematurely.
In the last regular round of the season, Tigers must defeat Warrington Wolves – who Powell joins for 2022 – at Wheldon Road to qualify for the Super League play-offs.
Either way, it will be the final home game for Powell – and a raft of departing players including retiring captain Michael Shenton – who took charge of his hometown club in May 2013.
He said: “There is no doubt there’ll be some emotional moments. I’ve taken a walk around the stadium today on my own because, at some point, it does hit you that this is it.
“There’s no more home games together, and we’re not going to be playing here together again, and this place means a lot.
“My family haven’t been to many games since Covid hit but they will all be here tomorrow.
“I am proud that I’ve been able to make them proud of the job that I’ve done. I’ve enjoyed every minute. And I just want to make sure it doesn’t end here.”
Powell, 56, has led Castleford to two Wembley finals and, in 2017, a maiden Super League Grand Final when he also guided the club to top spot for the first time in their history.
Major silverware still eludes him but the former Great Britain international hopes to have one last push to Old Trafford. On the emotional side of things, Powell added: “It’s about getting the needle right so it doesn’t tip over into over-excitement. It’ll hopefully drive peoples’ intensity through the roof, and I think we’ve got the balance right.”
Ironically, given they soon become his employers, Castleford could also visit Wolves in an eliminator play-off next Friday and have already beaten them in a Challenge Cup semi-final this term.
Warrington are safe in third but Powell insisted: “I knew it’d come to this, to be honest.
“In the Cup semi-final, I was pretty certain we’d get drawn against Warrington. But I’ve always thought it would come down to this final game. I thought we’d have to win six out of eight games [after losing to St Helens at Wembley] and we’ve won five.”
Today starts a big 48 hours for Yorkshire clubs; if Castleford slip up, both Leeds Rhinos and Hull KR – who meet each other at Headingley tomorrow night – will qualify for the play-offs.
If Tigers win, only the winner of Leeds versus Rovers will join them in the final top six.