Castleford Tigers coach Daryl Powell admits he should probably have continued as Leeds Rhinos coach for at least another year, as he looks to become the man that continues his old club’s extraordinary hoodoo with the Challenge Cup this weekend.
Powell coached the Rhinos in the early-2000s after retiring from playing – having been involved in the last squad to win the cup for Leeds back in 1999. He went on to become Director of Rugby for the club before making the switch to Rugby Union with the then-named Leeds Tykes in 2005, before finally returning to Rugby League with Featherstone in 2008.
And Powell admits there are no regrets about how his time at the club came to an end – emphatically telling reporters he stepped down, and wasn’t sacked. But he did admit that he could have perhaps continued for a while longer in hindsight, whilst admitting the 15-man code did wonders for his coaching career.
“I’ve no regrets about how it finished, but there are misconceptions about how it ended,” Powell said. “I decided to step down, there was no suggestion of me being pushed to one side. There’s a lot of things that have been said which are wrong – I’ve no problem with how things finished.
“It was my first year out of playing when I took the job, and it needed a lot doing to it. The culture needed changing and there were quite a lot of players who needed to leave the club. There were lots of young players coming through who needed to step up, and I just felt at that time it was a good chance to step away and have a look around.
“If I look back on it now, I’d have probably gone on for another year – but you can’t change what happened. That’s history now though; I never worried about it too much when I made the call – and rugby union was very good for me.”
That spell in Rugby Union is what Powell called part of his “journey”, which has brought him to the edge of becoming a Challenge Cup winner as both a player and a coach – something Rhinos counterpart Brian McDermott is also seeking to do on Saturday. And Powell believes he’s learned a lot from his different experiences in coaching – as well as saying he’s digging into Castleford’s rich history to inspire the players ahead of their date with destiny.
“I went on a journey that took me through some different places, and I learned a lot of different things. I’ve been through plenty of situations that have taught me a lot along the way, and I’ve never really set myself any targets. I just work hard in order to improve and learn as much as I can,” he said.
“I’ve been doing it all year (using history as motivation); and we did it last year too. It’s something I did at Featherstone; I’ve a strong belief your foundation comes from your history – especially if it’s a rich history like at Castleford.
“You’d be foolish not to tap into that, and before the semi-final there were nine or ten guys who had played in big games for Castleford that spoke to the squad. We’ve different players each week who we talk about playing in the spirit of.”