Following the conclusion of a thrilling regular season, we’ve put our writers to the task at TotalRL towers and asked them to vote for their coach of the season so far.
All coaches in Super League, Championship and League 1 are under consideration and each member of our team was given 10 votes: with their first pick scoring 10, second scoring nine and so on right the way through to their final pick, which scored one point. There were 50 points available for each coach – how did they score? Read on and find out.
10. Brian McDermott (Leeds Rhinos)
Following a dismal 2016 campaign, Leeds coach Brian McDermott has done a commendable job in turning around the Rhinos’ fortunes. At the time of writing they not only find themselves in the semi-finals of the Challenge Cup and sat second in the table ahead of the run-in for the Super 8s. Can McDermott weave more end-of-season magic at Headingley?
9. Sylvain Houles (Toulouse)
As a club, Toulouse will be bitterly disappointed with the end to their season, having come so agonisingly close to making the top four.
It shouldn’t overshadow what a remarkable season they have had, however.
Under Houles, Toulouse so nearly reached the Qualifiers despite only being promoted last term. It can be argued that had they not lost influential halfback Johnathon Ford for the final three months of the SEASONyear, they would have comfortably made the four.
But Houles has demonstrated that he is a coach that can get a team firing. Toulouse blitzed teams at times and put in some displays rival coaches described as Super League standard.
They’ll be back next year.
8. Jason Payne (Newcastle Thunder)
Payne may have only been in the job for a matter of weeks, but what a job he has done at Newcastle Thunder so far. He began his reign with six wins in succession to guide the Thunder into League 1’s play-off places – and while they did lose their most recent game, Payne has pushed Newcastle into a position to challenge for promotion to the Championship.
7. Rick Stone (Huddersfield Giants)
As Huddersfield stumbled to a humiliating defeat to Swinton in the Challenge Cup, some Giants fans took consolation from the fact that it would certainly bring an end to Rick Stone’s tenure with the club.
Calls for his head had grown all year. It must be said, the Giants had been uninspiring and terrible to watch.
But the Giants showed faith in their Australian coach, and they have been rewarded.
Stone has got his side firing, and in the end he helped propel them into the top eight of Super League, an accomplishment even the most optimistic Huddersfield supporter must have thought was unrealistic at stages in the campaign.
Huddersfield are now a well-drilled, committed, hard-to-beat outfit. They’ve found their attacking groove and look like a viable threat. Stone deserves great credit for that.
6. Richard Marshall (Halifax)
Threats of pay-cuts and financial difficulties hung over Halifax like a cloud at the start of the year – which makes Halifax’s top-four finish all the more incredible. Richard Marshall has worked wonders in West Yorkshire once again and perhaps finally, Fax can look forward with optimism ahead of the Qualifiers.
5. Neil Kelly (Dewsbury Rams)
When Neil Kelly arrived at Dewsbury, many questioned his sanity.
He inherited a team destined for relegation after seven straight league defeats. The Rams, at this point, had been awful. Not only were they losing, they were showing no signs of having the quality or spirit to stay up.
There was no instant success either, Kelly’s tenure was unspectacular to start with, and relegation still seemed inevitable.
Then out of nowhere, the Rams sparked to life. Five wins in their final six games have seen the Rams finish the regular season in eighth.
Kelly has instilled a work ethic and grittiness to the Rams they desperately lacked earlier in the year. His core values have paid dividends.
They say miracles don’t happen. This is as close as you’ll get to one.
4. Andrew Henderson (London Broncos)
Tim Sheens may have guided Hull KR to the top of the Championship, but Andrew Henderson had London breathing down their neck every step of the way. Henderson is adamant London are better positioned than 12 months ago to challenge for Super League – when they only missed out on the Million Pound Game on points difference. They can’t, can they..?
3. Ian Watson (Salford Red Devils)
From the brink of relegation to the cusp of Wembley, Ian Watson has steered Salford through a rejuvenation many deemed unrealistic.
Perhaps Salford’s luck was in on that day in East Hull, but they’ve made the most of it. They’ve gone from traditional bottom-half battlers to legitimate title contenders.
Even with a recent wobble, the Red Devils remain in the top four and competing for both major trophies.
Watson has been credited greatly for that. Not only has he got the Red Devils playing an outstanding brand of rugby, but his composure and professionalism give him the credentials to be a fine coach to guide Salford into a new era.
2. Chris Chester (Wakefield Trinity)
Wakefield pushing for the top-four and a place at Old Trafford? That sentence alone tells you why Chris Chester is ranked so highly on this list. He has not only transformed Wakefield’s fortunes in Super League – he has changed perceptions of how they are viewed by the rest of the world. Little old Wakefield are right in the thick of the race for the Grand Final, make no mistake about it.
1.Daryl Powell (Castleford Tigers)
It’s hard to put into words the magnitude of Powell’s achievements at Castleford so far.
The harsh reality for Castleford is that they have achieved nothing yet, and truly defining their achievements in the current campaign can only be decided once the season has come to an end.
But there’s little doubting that the Tigers have truly established themselves as one of Super League’s elite clubs in an utterly dominant campaign.
Sitting 10 points clear in the league has barely been seen during the Super League era. Their dominance of the competition is almost unprecedented.
The manner in which they have done it has been most impressive though. They’re free flowing, they’re expansive, they’re fearless. They’ve redefined what Classy Cas stands for.
Powell’s transformation of Castleford since his appointment in 2013 has been breathtaking, and he’s only just getting started.