COACH OF the year Daryl Powell is confident Castleford Tigers can continue to improve in 2015, despite the departure of key players.
Tigers finished second in Super League this season and reached the Challenge Cup final, but will go into next year without Man of Steel/Super League young player of the year Daryl Clark, who is joining Warrington Wolves.
Also leaving the club are long-serving prop Craig Huby and half-back/hooker Jamie Ellis, who are both heading to Huddersfield Giants, Salford Red Devils-bound second-row Weller Hauraki, prop Garreth Carvell, who has been released and stand-off Marc Sneyd, after he signed for Hull.
Tigers’ confirmed recruits so far are scrum-half Luke Gale (from Bradford Bulls), stand-off Ben Roberts and second-row Junior Moors (both Melbourne Storm), second-row Matt Cook, hooker Scott Moore, back Denny Solomona and forward Mike McMeeken (all London Broncos) and prop Steve Crossley (Featherstone Rovers).
Powell is adamant next year’s squad will be at least as strong as the 2014 vintage and he said: “We need to integrate the players coming on board. There’s quite a number of them which I actually think is a good thing.
“I think it’ll freshen us up and give us a real lift. There’s some new facilities coming to the club, too, and I’m excited by next year.
“I was this year when I looked at the team and I’m just as excited now, regardless of what we’ve done and where we sit. We have a great opportunity.”
Powell believes Tigers found a winning formula with their recruitment ahead of the 2014 campaign.
“We did a couple of things,” he reflected. “We got a deep squad and decent blokes, too, who could play. We got doubted over a fair few, but we can put ticks against most of them now.
“Hopefully we can do something similar next time.”
Tigers’ progress was acknowledged when Powell was named Super League’s top coach this week.
“When you get recognised by your fellow coaches you have to be happy,” Powell said. “But I’m delighted for the club I’ve been able to have an impact, which is what you always want to try and do as a coach.”
Meanwhile, Hunslet Hawks have confirmed the departure of captain David March after five seasons at South Leeds Stadium.
The former Wakefield Trinity Wildcats half-back/hooker played his last game for Hunslet in the Kingstone Press Championship One Grand Final win over Oldham six days ago.
March said: “I’ve really enjoyed every bit of my time at the club and have some great memories of trips to Toulouse and Wigan to remember for the rest of my life, as well as having two Championship One medals to show for it.”
March joined Hunslet from York City Knights in December 2009 and led the club to the Championship One title the following year.
Hawks director of rugby Darren Williams said: “In many ways it’s a sad day for the club as David has been Captain Fantastic in the five years’ service he has given.
“It has never been about money with David, he just lives and breathes the game and I know he has turned down better offers over the last three years to stay at the club.
“He’s an inspirational leader on the pitch and he earns his respect by what he does during those 80 minutes.”
Williams added: “In many ways he’s impossible to replace, but we must move on now.”