Following on from last weekend’s friendly against Swinton Lions, Head Coach Ian Watson previews this weekend’s fixture against formidable foe in current Betfred Super League champions – Wigan Warriors.
On facing Wigan…
“That is exactly what we need, now, at this stage of our preparations. Wigan will provide the rise in intensity that we are after, and this fits nicely into the increase in intensity that will lead us into the season proper.
“We started with a couple of run-outs, behind closed doors, before Christmas, and then gradually lifted things up. Swinton was a good continuation of that, last week, but this coming weekend’s game with the Warriors will provide us with that top level of opposition. They are very aggressive, and make their presence felt on the field, against any team, so they will both physically and mentally test us. It will show whether we are ready for what is to come in the following weeks.
“We want to give all our players as much game time as we can so that everyone is ready for Round One, but knowing how physical this weekend’s match is likely to be, we won’t be risking anyone carrying any little niggles.”
On testing themselves against a Betfred Super League side…
“That is the nature of the game; it’s a contact sport and you cannot hide away from that contact in any game. The higher workload and greater the contact we can get into the players in pre-season, the better hardened they are to cope with those during the actual season, itself.
“Without that, they would quickly get worn down once they started to get it, as they will in all Super League matches, because their bodies would be so unused to collisions of that intensity.”
On last week’s victory…
“It was important that we treated the game with that degree of importance, because we wanted to assess the various combinations, and also get that match fitness we need. We had a good deal of possession and we were able to show that in dry conditions we are a good footballing team. The test is going to come when we have to play in the conditions our U19s turned out in midweek.
“For a first hit-out, against Swinton, though, I couldn’t have asked for anything more.”
On the importance of Sunday’s game…
“This is going to be their main hit-out, so I am sure they will come quite heavy handed, and will test us to the full. Unlike Wigan, though, we already have the match last week under our belt, so for us it is about getting game time for more players, because that opener at Huddersfield will follow very quickly behind.
“By the end of Sunday afternoon, we should know exactly where we are in terms, of new combinations and new rules such as the introduction of the ‘shotclock’ and the reduced number of interchanges.”
On Connor Davies-Aspey…
“A lot of credit should also go to his U19s’ Head Coach, Danny Barton. He was the one spotted Connor playing for Hindley, and brought him down to Salford. He then recommended him to train with the first team, which led to his getting his place in the team, last week, when he showed exactly what he could do.
“As far as Sunday is concerned, we’ll have him on the bench, then see how the game progresses, assess the situation overall, and then decide whether to give him another run. It’s vitally important that we look after youngsters like Connor and don’t set them too great a challenge. I’d like to think he’d feature at some point, but circumstances have got to be right for him.”
On the young players at the Club…
“We told him to stick to doing what he knew he does well, but in fairness it has to said he did even more than that, and he showed up really well. It is good for the club as a whole that we can bring in young players from the U19s, which shows there is a pathway for any youngster with the talent to make the grade, as we have done with the likes of Josh Wood and Jake Bibby.
“It is the ultimate of what we want to do as a club.”
Tickets for Salford Red Devils’ next pre-season friendly against Wigan Warriors are available to purchase at the Club Ticket Office, over the phone on 0161 786 1570 or online HERE. For a reminder of ticket prices, click HERE.
Salford Red Devils 2019 Season Tickets are still available to purchase from the Club Ticket Office, over the phone on 0161 786 1570 or online HERE. You can spread the cost via Direct Debit payments, for more details, click HERE.