CRAIG LINGARD goes into the 2024 Super League season for the first time as a head coach of a top flight club.
Having taken on the reins at Castleford Tigers following Danny Ward’s exit, Lingard is charged with improving a second-bottom finish with a brand-new squad at the West Yorkshire club.
At the recent Castleford media day, League Express asked five Tigers players what they make of Lingard and the way he approached training and game days.
Albert Vete believes that Lingard’s calm manner is great to see around The Jungle.
“He’s been good, he doesn’t say too much but he talks when he needs to talk and that’s the impression I get of him,” Vete said.
“He’s not the one yelling at the boys or saying too much. He keeps his meetings and debriefs of training short.
“You can’t really tell until you get playing – that’s when you find out about players etc and what they are made of.
Liam Watts has labelled Lingard “a breath of fresh air” at the club.
“Linners has been a breath of fresh air. He was here after Radders (Lee Radford) so he had a feel for the place – he wasn’t a new bloke coming in and taking charge,” Watts said.
“I think it was a bit uncertain for him of where he stood when Danny Ward was here and then chasing Danny McGuire but he ended up getting the head coach job. He’s taken that on the chin and cracked on.
“He brought me, Paul McShane and Joe Westerman in early doors and said ‘this is what we want to achieve’ and ‘this is where we want to go’. He set his platform out and so far everyone has bought into it.
“There is a positivity around the place. I think he is trying to get the lads onside which is always a good sign.”
Danny Richardson believes that Lingard’s values as a person stand out.
“He came in halfway through last year as an assistant. The lads that were here then built that relationship with him and now he’s moved up to become head coach this year,” Richardson said.
“We all like his values, what he strives for and what he wants for us. We want to work hard for him and we all seem to be on the same page which you need.”
Josh Simm believes Lingard is definitely a coach to learn from.
“He’s a great bloke and one that really wants the lads to get round each other,” Simm said.
“He’s also pretty handy with the ball himself. He used to be a fullback so he’s good to learn off. He was an outside back so he knows what he is doing.
For Luke Hooley, with whom Lingard knows from his time at the Batley Bulldogs together, it is Lingard’s style of play that resonates most with the fullback.
“He’s just a really honest bloke, he’s a genuine bloke. He’s done a lot for me, he gave me my first shot at Batley and we work really well together,” Hooley said.
“He gave me a bit of a free reign and he trusted the squad at Batley. He’s just a really good man manager and he’s honest which goes a long way in this game.
“Craig is an eyes up player, he gives you a blueprint of what to do and what he recommends is best but he puts a lot of trust in the team.
“That’s what he did well at Batley – to play what you see. He trusts the process, if it goes wrong you have to own it and say ‘we got it wrong’.
“He puts a lot of confidence in the players to make the right decision to play what they see. I enjoy playing in that sort of system. It’s not a structural system where you take five drives and a kick.”
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