Lee Radford: New Castleford Tigers boss sets top-six target for 2022 Super League campaign

A top six finish and Betfred Challenge Cup run are new Castleford Tigers boss Lee Radford’s initial targets for 2022.

Thursday, 4th November 2021, 4:45 pm

Pre-season begins on Monday, 53 days after the defeat by Warrington Wolves which cost Castleford a place in this year’s Super League play-offs.

Outlining his aim for the forthcoming campaign, Radford - who has taken over from long-serving coach Daryl Powell - insisted: “Top six.”

He said: “We haven’t done it for the last two years and top six gives you a shout at the Grand Final.

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Lee Radford signs on for Tigers. Picture by Melanie Allatt Photography/Castleford Tigers.

“And the Cup - I’m not saying it’s easier to win now than it ever has been, but there’s probably less games to play now to get there.

“Anything can happen. When you look at the finalists over the last couple of years, it probably re-enforces that.”

Monday is the beginning of a new era for Tigers, with eight signings - Kenny Edwards, Bureta Faraimo, Mahe Fonua, George Lawler, Jake Mamo, Callum McLelland, Alex Sutcliffe and Joe Westerman - joining what Radford feels is a “very good” squad.

Reflecting on the club’s recruitment, Radford said: “In a quiet market - and I think it has been a quiet market this time around - we’ve done really well with what we’ve managed to bring in.

Lee Radford. Picture by Melanie Allett Photography/Castleford Tigers.

“There’s some talent there, definitely.”

The new boss confirmed Tigers are now up to the salary cap and no more additions are expected, but insisted he doesn’t yet have a first-choice 13 in mind.

“As a coach you love pre-season for that reason,” he stated.

“There’s no highs or lows of a loss or a win on a Monday - you’re just coaching and observing and seeing what everyone is putting in.

Lee Radford watched from the stands when Tigers won at his former club Hull in August. Picture by Jonathan Gawthorpe.

“That’s one of the beauties of pre-season. I think it has such an influence on the starting team at the start of the year, as do pre-season friendlies.”

He added: “I always like to start pre-season with an open mind with regards selection.

“Already I’ve been to watch a couple of the lads do their off-season programme and I’ve been impressed with a few.

“They have some brownie points in already.

“We hired a 4G pitch up at Pontefract and there were more numbers there than I’ve probably seen in an off-season programme.

“I’m not sure if it’s because they knew I was going up, but it has been good.”

Radford, 42, coached Hull to successive Challenge Cup wins in 2016 and 2017, but was sacked in March, 2020, ending a six-year reign.

Tigers confirmed his appointment, on a two-year contract, in April, but he had to wait until the end of the season to take up his new post.

Players were in for testing today and, unsurprisingly, Radford is itching to get cracking.

“It has been a two-year sabatical,” he said.

“Genuinely, if you were ever going to have two years out of the game, this was probably the best two years you could have had.

“Speaking with staff, getting closer to coming in, some of the [Covid] protocols and hoops they have had to jump through, it has taken me a little bit by surprise.

“Hopefully that is coming towards an end. That must have been a challenge as a player and certainly as a staff, even as a club.

“I got to one game with no fans which was surreal. It was not good, not what you want.”

Radford has already made his mark at the Jungle, literally. He has been doing some painting in a behind the scenes revamp and said: “I just want to say thanks to the club for supporting us to allow us to make some changes around the place in the training areas and coach/player areas.

“They have been very supportive and we’re making some alterations which should make a difference.

“Hopefully the players will see and appreciate that when they come back in next week.”

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