Castleford Tigers boss Danny Ward could see his side mathematically confirmed as safe tomorrow night at the expense of Wakefield Trinity, and while he’s not counting any chickens just yet, he’s backed whoever is relegated to bounce straight back up.
Having beaten Trinity in their own backyard last month in Ward’s first game in charge, the Tigers opened up a two-point gap at the bottom of the Super League ladder.
They then beat Hull FC at the Jungle last week to extend that gap to four points with just two games remaining.
Accordingly, a win at Wigan Warriors tomorrow – or anything but a win for Wakefield down the road at Leigh Leopards – would see safety cemented for Cas.
Castleford boss Danny Ward speaks out against relegation
43-year-old Ward is no stranger to a basement battle having twice before suffered the drop from Super League, once as a player with the Tigers and more recently as a coach with London Broncos, who remain in the Championship four years on from their relegation in 2019.
Ward has previously spoken about his distaste for the current system of promotion and relegation being decided solely by what happens on the pitch, and he told Love Rugby League that hasn’t changed.
He said: “I’m not getting ahead of myself and speaking about sympathy for Wakefield or anything like that, we’re not clear yet and we’ve got a massive game this week, but I do have sympathy for both clubs in this situation.
“It’s a tough place to be in, I’ve experienced going down and it’s not nice.
“It’s a terrible place to be in having to let staff go and let players go, and other things like that.
“I’m not just saying it because I’m in it, I’ve always had that view wherever I’ve coached.
“It’s a tough position we’re in, and all we can do is try to focus on what we’re doing and try to secure safety this weekend. Then we can talk about things after that.”
‘Whoever goes down will be in a strong position to come back up’
As confirmed earlier in the year as part of IMG’s plans to re-invigorate the sport, promotion and relegation will no longer be decided just by how a team fares on the pitch from 2024.
To get promoted, a certain grading will have to be met judged on various factors. There has been concern around the two clubs involved in the relegation battle this year as to whether they’d have enough quality off the pitch to get the required grades.
Ward though isn’t concerned for either of the pair, adding: “I think whoever goes down will be in a strong position to come back up.
“It’s all down to grading and I’m not fully up to date with the scoring system they’ve got there, that’s a bit more complicated than my levels in maths, but whoever goes down has got something to focus on rather than just having to win the competition to get back up.
“They’ve got other criteria to strengthen their club as it should be for everyone.
“We should be making people look at their clubs, the infrastructure, the fanbase, they should be ticking boxes.
“I think they’ll be in a strong position whoever does go down to bounce back up hopefully.”