NOW that Castleford Tigers are safe in Super League for 2024, the main question on every fan’s lips is: will Danny Ward be the head coach next season?
Ward was brought in for one job only: to save Castleford from relegation. After two wins in six games, the former London Broncos boss has done just that.
Victories over local rivals Wakefield Trinity and Hull FC helped the Tigers establish a four-point gap over Trinity at the bottom of the Super League table, and though there is still one round left of the regular Super League season, Castleford will be in Super League in 2024.
In that sense, Ward has done exactly what he was brought in to do by the flailing West Yorkshire club: survive.
However, along the way there have been some dreadful performances and results, not least the 66-12 drubbing by Warrington Wolves, a 34-4 home defeat to St Helens as well as the 48-6 thrashing by Wigan Warriors last week.
In fact, the Tigers’ points difference has taken such a battering that, if it had come down to points difference over which team would stay up, Ward’s men would have been relegated.
So far, Castleford have conceded a whopping 728 points – a remarkable 42 more than Wakefield – which is the club’s highest points against since the 2013 Super League season when the Tigers conceded 881.
Of course, the Tigers are firmly in transition and the lasting legacy of a poor five years’ of recruitment came back to haunt the club in 2023.
With an average age of over 30 before a ball had even been kicked, Castleford have had three different head coaches in 2023 and yet have still only managed six victories.
The likes of Jake Mamo, Daniel Smith, Adam Milner, Bureta Faraimo and Mahe Fonua have all left during the year whilst a whole host of names are expected to depart at the end of the season.
A determination to lower the average age of the squad has seen Liam Horne, Charbel Tasipale and Will Tate join in 2023 whilst Sylvester Namo, Nixon Putt, Sam Wood and Josh Simm are expected to join them for 2024 and beyond.
With Ward, though, do Castleford stick or twist? Does the club entrust Ward to turn things around in 2024 with a new-look squad or completely wipe the slate clean and bring in someone else?
The club doesn’t have that long to decide, especially when considering that many deals have already done by their Super League rivals for next season.
League Express is widely available from local newsagents across the north of England.