Written by Callum Walker
Danny Orr began and ended his career with hometown club Castleford Tigers, debuting in 1997 as an 18-year old. Though just 5 ft 8 and weighing little over 13 stone, the halfback was a revelation for the Tigers in the seven seasons he spent in West Yorkshire before he moved to Wigan at the end of 2003.
A livewire halfback – who could also operate at hooker – Orr played 191 times for Castleford in his first stint, scoring 71 tries and kicking 196 goals and four drop-goals. He helped bring the Tigers within 80 minutes of both the Super League Grand Final and the Challenge Cup Final in 1999 under the tutelage of Australian legend Stuart Raper. He became so crucial for the Tigers that he earned a place in the 2002 Super League Dream Team.
Orr joined an exodus of players that left Castleford at the end of 2003 – something which the Tigers never recovered from and so were subsequently relegated the year after from Super League – to join what he described as “the most famous and successful Rugby League club in the world”. This club was Wigan, yet 23-year-old Orr perhaps joined the club at the wrong time.
The Warriors had won the 2002 Challenge Cup, but their next trophy would come in 2010 with the Super League Grand Final. Orr, then, despite joining Wigan for success, failed to secure a winners’ medal, even being on the end of a defeat in the 2004 Challenge Cup Final.
At the end of his third season, Orr was sold to Harlequins RL in October 2006. His three years at Wigan had yielded 20 tries and 14 goals in 70 appearances, yet despite some good performances, the halfback never really settled at the Lancashire club.
His time at Harlequins, however, coincided with a pick-up in the form that resembled the early parts of his career. Over four seasons, Orr registered 102 appearances, scoring 16 tries and kicking 102 goals. In his first season at the capital club, the diminutive figure was instrumental as Harlequins finished seventh in the Super League table.
After four seasons in London and with the club on a steady decline, Orr decided to come home. He was 32 when he rejoined Castleford which raised some eyebrows amongst the Tigers’ faithful.
Critics were soon eating their words, however, as the halfback put in some tremendous performances, including a brilliant run of form as the Tigers reached the Challenge Cup semi-finals in 2011. In two seasons, Orr played 52 times, scoring 16 tries and kicking 31 goals.
Though the Tigers finished second bottom for Orr’s final season in 2012, the halfback perhaps produced some of the best rugby of his career. An experienced and determined character, Orr wound the clock back to his early youth, trying in vain to obtain some kind of good fortune for his hometown club.
Orr obtained representative honours, playing three games for England and scoring twice and earning two caps for Great Britain in the late ‘90s and early noughties.
With claims from Castleford fans that he could have played on, the halfback announced in July 2012 that he would retire at the end of the Super League season to take up a coaching job with Castleford Tigers, thus ending his 16-year professional career.
Orr even became an interim coach for a time in 2013 following the departure of head coach Ian Millward before ex-Featherstone boss Daryl Powell arrived in May that year. From there he moved to the assistant coaching role, where he remains to this day.
With a superb kicking game, an intelligent rugby brain and the ability to create something out of nothing, Orr brought something different to the sport. Lightening pace and an eye for a gap, the halfback could do everything to an impressive degree: kick, run, pass and tackle. Castleford fans especially will remember everything he did and is doing for the club.