David Clegg Concludes His Series Reviewing the Season Through The Eyes Of Up And Coming First Teamers, With Rising Star, Ryan Lannon
The week immediately following the Magic Weekend, Ryan went one even better, when he scored that impressive try, which turned the game in our favour, upon the visit of the Wakefield Wildcats.
“The score was 6-6,” he recalls, “and I noticed one of their players who looked to be struggling, and in need of a rest, so I thought I’d try my luck against him. When I came to the fullback, I just ran round him and my pace took me through. I was quite shocked to get past both of them, to be honest, but I really celebrated because it was my first try of the year.”
Not only was it quite spectacular, it also went some way towards killing off the Wildcats, and the Red Devils went on to a comfortable 38-8 win.
With two really special outings, and back to back performances to match, Ryan was undoubtedly on a considerable high, and eagerly looking forward to the next fixture, at home to Wigan. Having already been involved in defeating them in the pre-season friendly, he was most hopeful of repeating the task.
“All my family came down to watch, just because it was against Wigan, and such a big game,” he enthuses. “Following on from the previous two matches, it was great to be involved in this one for all the same reasons as in the friendly against them.”
Unfortunately, after the successes of the previous two weeks, this particular encounter did not go as smoothly.
“We got off to a disappointing start,” he ruefully reflects. “Wigan are such a good team overall, that on their day they are particularly difficult to overcome. We competed with them in the arm-wrestle for a spell, but they came out on top, though we did have chances to win it.
“My own performance was a shade down on the two other matches, and that was probably why I lost my place the week after.”
Having been overlooked for that visit to Leeds, Ryan was missing for a number of fixtures thereafter, and, in fact, was sent out to join a number of his teammates, at North Wales Crusaders.
“That was a really good experience,” is his considered judgement, “because it is much more physical in that league. They played me at loose forward so I was involved in a lot of that physical stuff in the middle. It’s all completely different from what I was used to in Super League.
“In Championship 1, they just like to bash each other, and that helped me with certain areas of my game. It was good to get down there and work on those areas which needed improvement.”
His time there encompassed two matches, with first a visit to Gloucester, where they won 30-18, and this was followed two week later with a 20-20 draw at home to Coventry Bears. If Ryan had been keen to get a taste of the physical aspects of the game, he certainly got this in abundance in the second of these, with almost the full group of Red Devils reporting for treatment, back at the A J Bell, the following day, such had been the physical pounding they had received.
“It’s how they play,” relishes Ryan with a grin. “They just like to dish it out to as many as they can. To a certain extent we were regarded as cannon-fodder by both sides.”
Surprisingly, he did not feature among the scorers in either, but this had not been a priority for him in his time with them.
“I’d gone with specific elements to work upon so those had to take priority,” he explains.
Just when it looked as though his season had come to a somewhat premature conclusion, he was suddenly drafted back into the Salford team for our visit to Headingley, to take on Leeds Rhinos, in the fourth round of the Qualifiers
“I’d not played for a while, and was looking forward to getting myself fully fit,” he reflects. “I already thought I had had a good season, and in some respects was looking further ahead to next year, so this fixture came as a bit of a surprise, and I know I didn’t recapture my early season form for it.”
With some justification, he now assures me that he is bigger and fitter than he was at the start of 2016, and ready to take 2017 by storm, thereby achieving more game time, thanks to the consistency for which has been striving, and now feels hopeful of achieving.