Craig Lingard: New Castleford Tigers head coach in Batley Bulldogs tribute for helping him ‘get where I am today’
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Lingard was appointed as Cas’ new boss last week after becoming an assistant to Andy Last midway through the 2023 season while he was still in charge of Batley Bulldogs in the Championship.
But after searching for a new head coach after Last’s exit in August, the Wheldon Road side have opted for Lingard, along with former Leeds Rhinos legend Danny McGuire as his assistant. Both have signed two-year deals as they look to revive the club’s fortunes after a disappointing Super League campaign.
Lingard said: “It has probably come around sooner than I anticipated but it’s professional sport and certain situations dictate what happens. The situation that Castleford are in at the minute fits me and I fit that and it’s similar to what I had at Batley when I came in there.
“That is one of the reasons why they have given me the responsibility of handling this transition period.
“I have served a long apprenticeship, all the way through from coaching schools to an assistant coach in Super League. I have done every single level you can think of. I have not gone the short route, straight from player into a Super League job. I have gone roundabout the houses and it has been hard work but I think it has benefited me.
“It has given me experiences of different environments and situations, all the way from the bottom right to the top. It is something that I think I am ready for but you never know until you’re in that limelight yourself.”
On his new assistant McGuire, Lingard said:
“He has had that pedigree as a player. It doesn’t always transfer into coaching as we have seen with some great players who tried to step into coaching and management and it’s not quite worked out. But Danny has been over at Hull KR and he’s been part of that successful transition of Hull KR coming from a bottom-end Super League side to one where they’re challenging where they are in Challenge Cup finals and the semi-finals of Super League play-offs.
“The experience that he has had throughout that transition period and bringing younger players in and surrounding those younger players with experienced ones is a similar sort of blueprint we’re trying to focus on for the next couple of years.
“His experience of that will be massive for us. He is still quite early in his career in coaching and he is looking to learn from me. It has got the hallmarks of being a decent partnership.”
Thanking the Bulldogs, where Lingard had three spells as a player, assistant and head coach, he said:
“I spent all of my career there as a player and got the opportunity to come back as John Kear’s assistant and that was the biggest step for me. I’d gone through the scholarships and academy at Bradford and was coaching at Bramley Buffaloes in the Conference, so to come back into the sem-pro game it put me back on the ladder.
“After being at Keighley they gave me the opportunity to again come back into the Championship as head coach. They have played a huge part of my life and my rugby league career both as a player and as a coach.
“It has certainly helped to get me where I am today.”