Can Radford retain the ‘Classy Cas’ label?

Garry Schofield wonders what’s in store for Lee Radford at Castleford next season.

What a difference a few days make!

One minute, Lee Radford is telling everyone he’s heading across the pond to become the defence coach at new rugby union club Dallas Jackals.

The next he’s becoming coach of good old Castleford on a two-year contract starting next season.

I wonder what JR Ewing would make of him kicking Texas into touch in favour of a two-year contract at Wheldon Road?

It’s not that much of a surprise, to be fair, because Radders had been linked with the post ever since Daryl Powell announced he was departing at the end of the season.

And while the Jackals job would have had its attractions, both in terms of lifestyle and no doubt financial reward, we’re talking about a man who has spent the bulk of his life in Rugby League and who has the sport running through his veins.

And instead of tackling a big change in both code and location, he’s heading to a well-established and well-run club with a good support base and the makings of a good squad.

I say makings, because in some areas, the squad is ageing, there are a good few players out of contract this year, and there’s a fighting chance a few could link up with Daryl at Warrington next season.

There are all sorts of rumours flying around about Castleford’s so-called jewel in the crown Jake Trueman, and they have been reinforced by Blake Austin’s current absence from Steve Price’s Warrington side and speculation that Gareth Widdop could return to the NRL.

Peter Mata’utia is another being linked, and it would be no surprise if Daryl wanted to take a few across the Pennines with him.

Then, of course, there’s Liam Watts, whom Radders let go from Hull to Castleford, albeit for a reported six-figure fee, in 2018, after which a little bit of dirty linen was perhaps washed too publicly.

Watts is an outstanding prop who has honed his offloading skills and support play even further at Castleford and who I believe should be in the England squad for the World Cup.

He’s contracted for a while yet, so if Warrington wanted him, it would cost them a fair amount, and of course, he’s a big asset to Castleford.

I see Radders was the other day playing down suggestions of a problem between the pair of them, and I’d be amazed if the issue hadn’t been addressed and sorted before confirmation of the new coaching appointment.

The other two interesting issues are who will form the new backroom staff at Castleford, and what style of play they will promote.

We know Castleford assistant coaches Ryan Sheridan and Danny Evans and analyst Steve Mills are heading to Warrington with Daryl, and there are inevitable suggestions that Andy Last, currently at Wakefield, will reunite with Radders after they worked alongside each other for so long at Hull.

They enjoyed success, with two Challenge Cup wins, but especially latterly, there were plenty of supporters frustrated at the forwards-dominated brand of rugby being served up by the Black and Whites.

Thee Hull faithful like to see their side playing an entertaining, open style, and they are no different along the M62 at The Jungle.

The ‘Classy Cas’ nickname has been around for a long time, and for good reason, because that’s what the supporters demand, and have generally got under Daryl.

I know a number of fans, and I well remember how frustrated they were when Ian Millward was at the helm, not just because of the results, but also the dismal type of rugby being played.

Radders certainly has plenty to consider as he prepares to take the reins and put his own particular stamp on the club.

The art of the possible!

I’ve got a huge amount of respect for Ken Davy and his commitment to Huddersfield over a long period of time.

And, having had a central role in negotiating it as Super League chairman, I suppose he would talk up the new TV deal.

But come on, we’ve lost £14 million a year, if the figures are to be believed, and how can that be anything but a huge blow to the game?

There’s not as much to go around the Super League clubs, who swallow up the bulk of the money, and therefore even less for those in the Championship and League 1 and in the community game, which is so crucial to the overall health of the sport.

Ken says the agreement, which only covers the next two years, so leaves us a bit up in the air when it comes to long-term planning, provides opportunity, with the possibility of every Super League game being on a screen somewhere.

Matches below Super League level could also be broadcast as part of a separate deal, we’re told.

But will possibility be turned into pound notes? We’ll wait and see.

The key is providing top entertainment that more people want to watch.

And I have to scratch my head when I hear Wigan Chairman Ian Lenagan sniping at the RFL – who at least see the bigger picture and consider the whole game – and hailing the product Super League is serving up, before then watching the boring, repetitive rugby on show when Wigan played Hull on Thursday.

If I wanted to watch an arm wrestle, I’d get a few editions of Indoor League up on YouTube.

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