Danny Ward insists the opportunity to try and preserve Castleford Tigers’ Super League status was one he couldn’t resist – and says he has no issues with proving he is worthy of a longer-term deal.
Ward has been unveiled as Castleford’s new head coach, with the former London boss tasked with keeping them afloat in the top flight.
With just six games of the season remaining, the Tigers are level on points with Wakefield, whom they face in Ward’s first match as head coach next Friday night.
Seaking exclusively to Love Rugby League, Ward has lifted the lid on a ‘chaotic and crazy’ 24 hours which ultimately led to him being offered the role at his former club, having missed out earlier in the season at the expense of Andy Last, who was sacked last week.
“I’ve not had a second to stop,” Ward said. “It’s all ramped up and gone crazy in the last 24 hours.
“It’s been chaotic and crazy, chatting it all through with Castleford and chatting it through with the family and my key people around me. But I’m thrilled to get it done.
“There’s no secret that I put in for the job originally and showed interest because it’s a club close to my heart.
“It’s an exciting opportunity with the squad they’ve got and the fanbase, it’s a club I’ve always had a lot of love for.”
No wholesale changes by the new Castleford Tigers head coach
Ward insists he is inheriting a squad capable of pulling itself out of trouble at the foot of the table despite a string of dismal results towards the end of Last’s tenure. He also stressed he has no intention of making wholesale changes.
“I see a lot of talented young players, a lot of absolute quality and it does excite me,” he stressed.
“Super League has had a mad year, every team is capable of beating each other and if you’re not right on your day you can get turned over by anyone.
“It’d be hard for me to say they’re in the right position or not without getting in there; the competition is strong but the squad is strong, I will say that.
“It’s way too late in the season to be going in and ripping everything up anyway, but I don’t think there’s a squad there that needs wholesale changes ripping through it.”
Danny Ward ‘totally fine’ with short-term contract at the Jungle
Danny Ward will head north in the coming days before the Tigers return to training next Monday.
He has signed a deal until the end of the current campaign, with no commitment beyond this year made by the Tigers as they wait to discover what division they will be playing in.
That means the final six games are effectively an extended job interview for Ward: who sees no issues with that from his end.
He said: “I’m totally fine with that. It works well, because it was so last-minute to swing it with the family anyway! My wife is going to get rid of me for six weeks which is great for her!
“But I’m happy with the arrangement, I understand the club’s position that they’re planning for next year and I’d love to take it forward beyond this year, obviously.
“It keeps me on my toes going in there, it’s short-term and let’s throw everything about it and try and take it further than that if we can.”
The upcoming relegation four-pointer with rivals Wakefield Trinity
Ward was in the Castleford squad of 2006 that lost a dramatic final night shoot-out at Belle Vue against Wakefield, with next Friday’s showdown evoking memories of that incredible night 17 years ago.
“I can sit here and tell you it’s one game at a time, and every game matters and all that nonsense but everyone knows what’s at stake,” he said.
“Yeah, there’s still five games to go, but you can only look at that one, can’t you.
“It’s a big game, it’s hugely exciting, it’s a local derby and it’ll be packed to the rafters. Hopefully this time it’s ourselves who come out on the right side of it.”