Does Daryl Powell’s return to Super League herald a new era for British coaches?

The news that Daryl Powell has been appointed as the new head coach at Castleford Tigers has largely been greeted positively by people in the game this week.

It is great to see Powell back in the top flight, a place where his work at Featherstone Rovers shows he belongs.

There is now a clear majority of British and French coaches in the top jobs at Super League clubs. Eight of the clubs now have coaches from these shores, with six of them from Yorkshire.

This is a change which should be welcomed, and can only be good for the long-term health of a sport which has realised that it must be more self-sustaining to survive.

But the reasons for the change are perhaps not as clear cut as simply that British coaches are improving.

While that is true, there are also other, perhaps more fundamental, changes taking place in the structure of the sport worldwide.

The money available for coaches and players in the NRL is perhaps persuading more aspiring coaches from Down Under to stay at home. The flow of players has slowed down significantly over the last 12 months, and it seems the flow of coaches might be doing the same.

But while some may bemoan the apparent lack of attractiveness that the situation seems to show in Super League, more sensible minds may perceive it as an opportunity. 

There is now no excuse available to coaches or players that some journeyman from Down Under is taking their place. The chances are now there, as Powell’s appointment, and, to a lesser extent, that of Brian Noble shows. 

With less money on offer, the art of coaching becomes more important. Coaches must work harder to bring domestic players up to the standards of professionalism which are required. 

It will be hard work. It will be a challenge to produce players for Super League when there are fewer off the shelf imports available.

But it is a challenge that the game needs. We need as a sport to respond positively to our current situation and to find robust solutions to our problems from within ourselves.

So does Powell’s appointment signal a new era. Yes, but not necessarily a golden one. It will be an era of struggle and graft, and its success is currently in the balance.

But men like Daryl Powell, Brian Noble and Paul Anderson are just the sort of fellows you’d like to have on your side when a tough job needs doing well.

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