IAN BLEASE LEAVES SALFORD RED DEVILS

Director of Rugby, Ian Blease has today left Salford Red Devils to take up an opportunity at Leeds Rhinos.

His departure ends a 20-year association with the club, where he has represented the Red Devils’ both on and off the pitch.

A Salford lad through and through, Ian joined the club as a player from local side, Folly Lane ARL.

He went on to make 272 appearances over a 12-year period, including three seasons as club captain.

Ian also won two Second Division titles (1990-91 & 1995-96) and was part of the team who won promotion to the newly founded Super League in 1996.

The back-row forward also reached two Lancashire Cup finals, where he scored a memorable try against Widnes in 1991.

Since his playing days, Ian rejoined the club in 2016 as Director of Rugby.

During his tenure, the Red Devils have reached the Betfred Super League Grand Final in 2019 and the Challenge Cup Final in 2020.

In the wake of his departure, Ian Blease has said: “As my time at Salford Red Devils now comes to an end, I do hope everyone will understand my decision, for what for me and my family is a huge opportunity to join Leeds Rhinos as the Sporting Director.

“I have given my all for this club for over 20 years, and I feel now is the right time to seek something I have worked hard for.

“Firstly, I would like to pay my respects to all my club colleagues and the board for understanding my position, who have helped and assisted me throughout the last eight years.

“They know who they are, you are very special to me, and I will be forever grateful.

“Secondly, to all my coaches and back-room staff, you have been on point for the club every single day we have worked together.

“To every single player over the last eight years, you have my heart completely. You have worn the shirt with such pride, and you have all helped me build teams who competed with the best in competition – and I will be forever grateful.

“I now have the best of memories to take with me from our years of working closely together.

“Finally, a special mention to the Red Devils fans, your support for and to me has been amazing.

“From the Supporters Trust and its members to every single fan who has taken time to speak to me over the years, I truly thank you.

“It has been my absolute pleasure to work for you all, and I sincerely wish all the fans and the Red Devils all the very best for the future.

“I do hope my contribution to the club has helped the club transition from what it was when I arrived, to where it is now.”

Managing Director, Paul King has added: “Ian has been a loyal servant to the club for over 20 years now, so it’s with some sadness that we confirm his departure.

“I have thoroughly enjoyed our last six years working together and it is a relationship that has created so many unforgettable memories.

“Old Trafford in 2019 and Wembley in 2020 are two fantastic occasions that will remain stamped in the club’s DNA throughout history, as will Ian.

“It is very difficult to deny one of the big three when they come knocking, so I fully understand his decision to leave and wish him well in the future.

“Ian, Sally and Ava have long been a part of the Salford family so match days will feel a little strange, but they will always be welcome back at the stadium and should be guaranteed a very warm, and pleasant reception when the Rhinos are in town in August – I have no doubt we will share a pint post-game.

“The club will now focus on securing a stadium deal, the commencement of our Elite Academy, the 2025 squad build, the race for the playoffs and the many other exciting opportunities heading our way.”

RED DEVILS SECURE ELITE ACADEMY LICENCE

Salford Red Devils are excited to confirm that the Club has been awarded an Elite Academy Licence.

Securing the Elite Academy Licence is a significant piece of the jigsaw and efforts since the Club’s previous application have sought to reaffirm that.

Since 2021, the Club have invested into a strong pathway programme through the REDS, Development Academy and Reserves Programmes – with 26 players having secured professional contracts. Whilst key appointments have strengthened the pathway, with first class personnel already in the system, this already strong infrastructure will now be built upon.

The Aims of the Academy are as follows:

  • Creating an environment of excellence for young players to develop and progress to represent Salford Red Devils in the Super League.
  • Developing people first in “The Salford Way”, with a top rate personal development and welfare programme.
  • Driven by innovation.
  • One Club – “The Red Thread” permeating through every aspect of the Club.
  • Ensuring all players respect the balance between Rugby League, Education and being ‘Future Ready’.
  • Producing at least five players for the Salford Red Devils First Team squad in 5 years.

In tandem with the incoming Rugby Strategy for Salford, the Elite Academy Licence supports the ethos of the RED Thread – the core values of the Club. Together, they connect that young child lacing up their boots for the first time with the first-team star pulling on the shirt and representing Salford.

Managing Director, Paul King said:

“I am delighted with the decision to award the Club an Elite Academy Licence. It is outstanding news for everyone involved with the bid, and pivotal in our strategy to drive the Club forwards.

“Today’s announcement is recognition and a deserved reward for the hard work not only put into this bid, but also in to laying the foundations for its success since 2021.

“Those foundations have already enabled so much, and now the licence gives us an opportunity to build on them and develop elite players that no longer have to leave our City in order to pursue a career in rugby league.”

Speaking on the Club’s previous application in 2021, Paul Trainor, Director added; “We chose to use that as a catalyst to create a first-rate player pathway coaching team creating a system which develops great people as well as great rugby players.

“Our Academy programme will ensure that the players coming through the club will understand what it means to represent the City of Salford as well as our club, demonstrating our “Red Thread” core values as an ambassador of the club.  

Over the past three years, our Rising Stars, REDS, Development Academy and Reserve Team pathways have produced 26 players who have gone on to be rewarded with professional contacts, either at Salford Red Devils or at other clubs.

Ian Blease, Director of Rugby Operations said;

“This is a sign of the quality of our system, which the Elite Academy will enhance even further. Having our Elite Academy Licence provides the opportunity for the club to retain the best talent in the City of Salford, as well as support their education and begin their journey to achieve their dreams of playing for Salford Red Devils in Super League.

“We look forward to welcoming them and their families into the Salford family.”

The Club would also like to give thanks to the partners, donors and businesses who have provided support to the pathway. Their unwavering support has contributed to a successful bid and enabled young people to have a chance at achieving their dreams.

Should further individuals, groups or businesses wish to discuss supporting the Academy moving forward please contact chris.irwin@salfordreddevils.net.

JOE MELLOR SIGNS FOR SALFORD RED DEVILS

We are delighted to reveal the signing of Joe Mellor on a two-year deal.

The 33-year-old becomes our eighth addition of the off-season, following the signings of Nene Macdonald, Cade Cust, Ethan Ryan, Joe Shorrocks, Matty Foster, Kai Morgan and most recently, Chris Hankinson.

Born in Warrington, Mellor came through the ranks at Wigan Warriors before enjoying two successful loan spells at Widnes Vikings.

After joining the club on a permanent basis, Mellor made 178 appearances for the Vikings, scoring 66 tries.

He signed for Leigh Leopards in 2021 and has since made 71 appearances for the club, playing a vital role in their rise from the Betfred Championship, to Challenge Cup glory in 2023.

A natural halfback, but operating at hooker during his time at the Leopards, Mellor has already joined Paul Rowley’s squad for pre-season training and will be looking to build some momentum ahead of an exciting 2024 campaign.

In reaction to joining the club, Mellor has said: “I am really happy to join Salford for the next two years and I am excited to get started, and meet the rest of the team!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has also said: “It is great to welcome Joe to the group.

“He is a very established player who has had a consistently positive influence on any team he represents. He is highly competitive, he holds himself to high standards and will add greatly to an already excellent group of lads at Salford.

“Kurt and Kris have both worked alongside Joe before and have fully re-enforced all the above qualities.”

Director of Rugby and Operations, Ian Blease has added: “Joe is another great addition to our 2024 squad.

“Joe is a player we have admired for some time. Similar to Chris Hankinson, our coaches know Joe well and what he can bring to our club.

“I am really pleased Joe has chosen to join Salford and I am looking forward to seeing him in the Red Devils shirt this season.”

Everyone at Salford Red Devils would like to welcome Joe to the club and look forward to seeing him in action next season.

Join our new recruit and the rest of the team in 2024 by purchasing your season ticket HERE.

CHRIS HANKINSON SIGNS FOR SALFORD RED DEVILS

We are delighted to reveal the singing of Chris Hankinson on a two-year deal.

The centre becomes the seventh addition of the off-season, following Nene Macdonald, Ethan Ryan, Cade Cust, Joe Shorrocks, Matty Foster, and Kai Morgan, through the door.

Hankinson actually began his rugby league journey at Salford, progressing through the junior ranks before kick-starting his professional career at the then-Leigh Centurions.

He has since enjoyed spells at Barrow Raiders, Swinton Lions, London Broncos, Toulouse Olympique, Featherstone Rovers and his hometown club, Wigan Warriors.

The 30-year-old has already joined up with his new teammates for pre-season training and will look to hit the ground running in 2024.

In reaction to signing for the club, Hankinson has said: “I am really happy to be joining Salford.

“It is a club that I hold close to me, as it’s where it all started. I can’t wait to get going and run out with the lads in front of the fans!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has also said: “The group and I are delighted to welcome Chris to Salford.

“He is a very accomplished player who, in my opinion, epitomises dedication and perseverance to being the best he can be.

“Chris is the type of player we want in our environment; versatile, a great character and the ultimate professional.”

Director of Rugby and Operations, Ian Blease, has added: “I am delighted to finally bring Chris into our club.

“He is a player our Head Coach has wanted to bring to the club for some time now, and someone Paul knows well.

“I believe Chris has made a great decision to join us and I cannot wait to see a very talented player challenging for the Red Devils shirt, and for Chris to perform to his best ability in our backline.”

Everyone at Salford Red Devils would like to welcome Chris to the club and look forward to seeing him run out in a red shirt.

Join our new man at the Salford Stadium by buying your 2024 season ticket HERE!

CADE CUST SIGNS FOR SALFORD RED DEVILS

We are delighted to reveal the signing of Cade Cust on a one-year deal, with an option to extend by a further season.

The Aussie becomes our fifth addition of the off-season, joining Papua New Guinea international, Nene Macdonald, Ireland international, Ethan Ryan, as well as Matty Foster and Kai Morgan, through the door.

Born in Scone, New South Wales, Cust began his rugby league career at the Manly Warringah Sea Eagles, making his NRL debut in 2019.

After making 10 appearances, the halfback signed a two-year deal at Wigan Warriors, where he made 40 appearances, scoring six tries.

During his time at the DW, Cust has won the Betfred Super League, the League Leaders Shield and the Betfred Challenge Cup – playing a vital role in their final success against Huddersfield Giants in 2022.

He now makes the switch to Salford, looking to continue his development under the guidance of Paul Rowley and his coaching staff.

Upon confirmation of his move, Cust said: “I am really looking forward to meeting everyone involved at the club.

“To the fans, I am a competitor who loves the game and can’t wait to represent you all!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley added: “We are really pleased to add Cade to our group.

“I have watched enough of him to confidently say there is a very talented rugby player who will thrive amongst this outstanding group of lads at Salford.

“After some good conversations with Cade, it is clear to me that his enthusiasm, determination, belief and good character are a great fit and addition to our group.

“Myself, Kurt and Krissy are delighted to commit to Cade and supporting him to be his absolute best!”

Director of Rugby and Operations, Ian Blease also said: “It is great news to bring a player of Cade’s calibre to Salford Red Devils.

“He is a player full of potential and we believe this is the perfect environment for him to progress and show our supporters what he is capable of.

“I want to welcome Cade and his family to the club – I look forward to seeing what we can achieve together!”

Everyone at Salford Red Devils would like to welcome Cade to the club and look forward to seeing him in action.

Join our latest addition and the rest of the squad in 2024 by purchasing your season ticket HERE!

ETHAN RYAN SIGNS FOR SALFORD RED DEVILS

We are delighted to reveal the signing of Ireland international, Ethan Ryan on a three-year deal

The 27-year-old has become the club’s second signing of the window, following Papua New Guinea international, Nene Macdonald, through the door.

Ryan began his rugby league career at Bradford Bulls, where his impressive return of 88 tries in 98 appearances caught the eye of a few Betfred Super League clubs.

Hull KR were the ones to land his signature, with Ryan proceeding to score 22 times in 42 appearances for the Robins, over a four-year spell.

In reaction to signing for the club, Ryan stated: “I can’t wait to get started with the Red Devils.

“The deal has been over the line quite a while now and it’s almost time to rip in with a new team.

“I am really looking forward to playing in a team that plays like Salford does. As an outsider looking in you admire the rugby the club plays and I’m glad I can be a part of that now – and hopefully add something myself.

“I will always give 100% on the field and I can’t wait to put that shirt on, and show the fans what I can do!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has added: “Ethan is a quality addition to our team.

“He can play a couple of positions to a high standard and his addition will help drive standards and competition within the squad.

“As a former team mate of Kurt’s, we have the confidence that we are adding a lad with all the attributes and character traits to fit into our environment seamlessly!”

Director of Rugby & Operations, Ian Blease, has added: “I am delighted that we have been able to bring Ethan to the club.

“He will fit straight into the culture and provide a fantastic option, in multiple positions. When I spoke to him, I was very impressed with his motivation and eagerness to progress his career at the club.

“I would like to welcome Ethan and his family to Salford!”

Everyone at Salford Red Devils would like to welcome Ethan to the club and look forward to seeing him in action.

See our new addition at the Salford Stadium next season by purchasing a season ticket HERE!

DEON CROSS SIGNS NEW TWO-YEAR SALFORD RED DEVILS CONTRACT

We are delighted to announce Deon Cross has signed a new two-year deal at Salford Red Devils, with the option to extend by a further year.

The 27-year-old has been an outstanding addition since joining the club from Widnes Vikings at the start of 2022.

Arriving as a natural winger, but now thriving at centre, Cross has continued his rapid development under the tutelage of Paul Rowley and the rest of the coaching team.

In his debut season, Cross scored 14 tries in 29 games and earned a call-up to the England Knights squad – making his debut against Scotland in a 28-4 victory.

There’s no doubt – with this long-term extension – Cross will continue to be an important member of the team for years and years to come.

In reaction to extending his stay at the club, Cross said: “I’m really pleased to extend my contract at Salford.

“The club have given me this opportunity and I want to repay them with my performances and help achieve the goals that we have set as a team!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has added: “Myself and the group are delighted that Deon has extended his contract.

“He has had an incredible journey in rugby league and we look forward to being a part of it going forward – and helping him continue his remarkable progression.”

Director of Rugby & Operations, Ian Blease has also said: “It has been a real pleasure to see Deon’s development at Salford Red Devils.

“He is a player who embodies dedication and hard work. To see how he prepares for a game leaves me with no surprise when he performs to a high standard on the weekend.

“I am delighted we have been able to retain his services for the next few years. Deon is a first-class person and to see him pull on an England Knights jersey last year was a very proud moment for everyone at the club.

“I would like to congratulate Deon on his new contract and look forward to seeing him progress even further in 2024!”

Deon is committed for 2024 – are you? Buy your season ticket HERE!

KING VUNIYAYAWA SIGNS NEW TWO-YEAR SALFORD RED DEVILS CONTRACT

We are delighted to announce King Vuniyayawa has signed a new two-year deal at Salford Red Devils.

The 28-year-old Fijian joins Shane Wright as the second forward to commit their long-term future to the club, penning terms until the end of 2025.

King joined the club from Leeds Rhinos in 2022 and has been an ever-present in Paul Rowley’s forward pack.

Before moving to England, the 28-year-old also made five appearances for NRL side, New Zealand Warriors and has represented Fiji at the recent Rugby League World Cup.

Twenty two appearances and two tries later, the metre-eater has signed a new deal and will want to play a major role in any success going forward.

In reaction to extending his stay, Vuniyayawa has said: “I am really excited to extend my stay here at Salford and looking forward to what we can build at this club in the future!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley, has added: “It is great to retain the services of King and we look forward to helping him reach his potential in Salford colours.

“Retaining players like King is a good start to us building a competitive squad for next year and beyond!”

Director of Rugby and Operations, Ian Blease has also said: “It is great news we have been able to extend King’s contract until 2025.

“Ever since his debut, we have seen him develop immensely under the current coaching staff and I know he is well-respected by his teammates, and all the staff.

“I look forward to seeing the next step in his journey and I am delighted that will be in a Red Devils shirt!”

Everyone at Salford Red Devils would like to congratulate King on his new deal!

SHANE WRIGHT SIGNS NEW THREE-YEAR SALFORD RED DEVILS CONTRACT

We are delighted to announce Shane Wright has penned a new three-year deal at Salford Red Devils, keeping him at the Club until 2026.

Wright joined the club from North Queensland Cowboys after making 41 NRL appearances and penned a two-year deal at the Salford Stadium.

Since then, the Aussie has made 24 appearances, scored six tries and become a vital part of Paul Rowley’s back row.

Unfortunately, Wright was caught on the wrong side of a tackle against St Helens and is likely to miss the remainder of 2023 with an ankle injury.

Before that, the 27-year-old was in flying form and picked-up the club’s April Player of the Month award, as voted by the supporters.

In reaction to extending his stay with the Red Devils, Wright said: “I am pumped to extend my time here at Salford.

“We have a good group at the moment and the club is heading in the right direction, which I am excited to continue being a part of!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has added: “It is great news to keep Shane within the group. He is a young player with lots of potential, and all the drive and determination to reach it.

“He is a fantastic lad and really popular amongst the group. We are all delighted we get the pleasure of working alongside Shane going forward.”

Director of Rugby and Operations, Ian Blease also said: “It is a massive coup for the club to retain Shane’s services for the next three years.

“He is the ultimate professional, conducts himself with utter class and will no doubt play a major role in any future success this team has.

“His excellent form in 2023 was cut so cruelly short, but I know when he returns, it will be a massive boost for his teammates and the coaching staff!”

Everyone at Salford Red Devils would like to congratulate Shane on his new deal!

CHRIS ATKIN PENS NEW TWO-YEAR SALFORD RED DEVILS CONTRACT

Salford Red Devils are delighted to reveal Chris Atkin has signed a new two-year contract, keeping him at the Club until 2025.

After securing the future of multiple key players in pre-season, tying down our number 14 is another crucial step towards achieving our goals.

Atkin signed for the Red Devils in 2020 and has since become a pivotal figure for the side in all competitions. His versatility during an injury-hit campaign has been vital and Head Coach, Paul Rowley has often highlighted the 30-year-old’s selflessness.

He has made 64 appearances in Red and White, scoring 12 tries and contributing heavily in all areas of the field.

Keeping a player of Atkin’s calibre at the club for the long-term is a huge boost for the side and he will undoubtedly play a big role in the team going forward.

Reacting to his new deal, Atkin has said: “Buzzing to have signed on for another two years. I am really excited to be a part of this club and to see how far we can go!”

Head Coach, Paul Rowley has added: “It is really positive news that the club continues to show growth and progression with the extended contract to Chris.

“He is an absolute pleasure to work with and such a valuable asset to our club.

“His contribution during my time here as been fantastic and I speak on behalf of the staff, and the team in saying we are all delighted that’s he’s chosen to continue his journey with Salford!”

Director of Rugby and Operations, Ian Blease has also said: “As we continue to strengthen our 2024 squad and beyond, securing Chris’ signature for another two years is really pleasing.

“Chris has been outstanding for us since he came onboard in 2020. He has listened to his coaches, worked really hard on his game and his skill set – coupled with his field positional options – has become a real bonus for us.

“His loyalty, dedication to our cause and the way he just gets on with his job is a credit to himself and his family – he is an absolute pleasure to be around and work with!”

Everyone at the club would like to congratulate Chris on his new deal!

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