In the run up to the much-debated dual fixture Bank Holiday weekend, one could not have asked for anything better than an extra day of preparation prior to this, and with last week’s televised outing at Widnes being on the Thursday evening, that is just what the Salford players and coaches have had.
It is not just having an additional day for recovery, though, it is the use to which the time is put, and Head Coach, Ian Watson, has been keen to get the greatest benefit he can from the whole period of preparation.
“The Easter period is a very busy time for us, but with the Catalans match being the first of them, and it also being at home, that is where we have placed our focus.”
“We have had two really good days’ training at the start of the week, and will finish our preparations on Thursday, with Captain’s Run.”
It is by this time of the season that the wear and tear on the players’ bodies starts to show its effects, so there will be a number of them who will be thankful for the extra day’s respite.
“We picked up quite a few knocks and bangs in our last match, which is far from helpful but the players are beginning to roll back in now, so there might be only slight changes from last week’s game, for the Catalans fixture.”
With Easter Monday’s visit to Leeds coming up hard and fast behind, however, the possible return of any missing players for that match would add a freshness to the squad for that outing.
“The recovery of players is an essential part of our work over this coming period.
“At least this year, we are not having to face a trek down to the south of France, which we had to make last year.”
Somewhat surprisingly, the Dragons have found victories few and far between this season, and it is when teams are in this position that they can potentially be at their most dangerous.
“They have a pretty big squad with quality players, and in fact they are playing well in games.
“Against Hull last week, for example, their forwards absolutely dominated the Hull pack for large periods of the game, so they are a team to be wary of without any doubt.”
After savouring the atmosphere of a local derby for the equivalent fixture against Leigh last year, this season’s Good Friday home game will need Salford fans to turn up in numbers to generate the atmosphere to spur on the players to victory.
“Our players will really need the strong vocal support from our fans for this one because unlike the event our one trip to France each season has become, for the Catalans fans it is every other week, so they don’t bring many with them.”
A trip to the Emerald Headingley Stadium is always a daunting encounter, with only three post-war victories to our record, and coming so quickly on the tails of the first game, will be a real tester for the squad.
“I never went there and won as a player myself.
“Everyone in the top leagues of any sport want to make their home ground a fortress that no-one can come to with much hope of winning, and Leeds have clearly managed to do that, especially against us.
“But it’s a record which is there for us to break, and something to look forward to with excitement rather than anxiety. We have been in some pretty good tussles with them in recent years, so we shall just have to try to get into a contest with them.”
In order to do that, however, it is not going to be sufficient to rely merely upon players returning from injury to add the required freshness to the team, it will require some planned rotation of the squad.
“We did that to good effect for our away fixture at Warrington in the Spring Bank Holiday double header last year, and came away with a win at a ground we don’t always get a result at.
“We are, though, a new team, and combinations are still developing so we shall have to balance those two aspects against each another, because at Widnes we did not execute our plays in the early stages of the first half as well as Widnes did at the end of the second half.
“Against the two Hull sides, however, we really earned the right to be in a position to do that to really good effect against both those teams.”