Lee Radford's Departure From Failing Castleford Tigers Was An Inevitability

The head coach left the club on Monday after three straight losses
10:18, 06 Mar 2023

It was an inevitability in the end. Castleford Tigers announced on Monday morning that head coach Lee Radford “relieved of his first team duties by mutual agreement”. Speak to many in the Cas fan base and they’ll claim it’s been a long time coming.

The Tigers’ 36-0 home defeat to Wigan Warriors in the Betfred Super League on Friday night extended their winless start to the 2023 season and provided the final nail in Radford’s coffin. Their three defeats this term so far have been varying degrees of humiliating.

They showed in the final half an hour of their opening fixture away to Hull FC that they were a far better team than the one which had gone 32-6 down in the preceding 50 minutes. Their 24-point comeback landed them just short of a thrilling win, but the inability to get things right from the off was of huge disappointment to Castleford supporters.


In round two they were beaten 24-6 by world champions St Helens. In and of itself that was no great shame, but the opportunities thrown away over the course of the 80 minutes said much about the Tigers’ tendency to shoot themselves in the foot. Jake Mamo breaks were squandered at will, while Bureta Faraimo’s apparent walk-in try was ruled out when the winger carelessly put an elbow in touch as he grounded. The complacency was astounding, and Radford was lost for words afterwards.

And when he needed a response, the former Hull FC head coach got nothing of the sort against Wigan. They might have limited the Warriors to a single first-half try from Liam Marshall but after the break they threw in the towel. It was a reflection of the state of things under Radford at this point in time that he just couldn’t get the best out of his squad.


Cas narrowly missed out on the play-offs under Radford last season in his first year in charge, but they needed a good start to 2023 to convinced the board that the 43-year-old was still the right man for the long-term project. What they got instead was too many signs that the ship was veering off course.

Joe Westerman’s brush with social media notoriety on a night out all of a week before the season’s start did Radford’s authority no favours, especially when the coach publicly backed the back-rower by throwing him in against Hull. Some Cas fans wanted Faraimo to be given time out after his glaring error against Saints, but he too was back in the line-up the next week.

Radford spoke much in his post-match interview on Friday about getting in the arm wrestle, pointing to Saints, Wigan and Cas’ next opponents, the Huddersfield Giants, as the leaders in the game in that area. But that will have helped his station with the fan base in no way at all, since one of the main criticisms was the emphasis on size and durability at a club which in its greatest heydays has lived up to the ‘Classy Cas’ moniker.

“With the club and myself heading in different directions, I think making this early call will be the correct one,” said Radford in the statement announcing his departure. “Hopefully, it can kick start their season starting this Friday away at Huddersfield.”

Few will disagree that it is the right decision based on the Tigers’ results. A squad boasting the likes of Gareth Widdop, Jacob Miller, Paul McShane and Kenny Edwards needs to be turning in better performances, more positive results and superior attitude to what has been on display thus far.


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