RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: WARRINGTON V SALFORD

With a first half performance that must have been their best forty minutes of the season so far, the Salford Red Devils put the Warrington Wolves to the sword, to complete their second double of the season, at the Halliwell-Jones, last Friday evening.

Yet, it had been expected by many that it would be Warrington who would have had so much to prove, following their Wembley defeat, that the Red Devils might well have had to contend with a considerable backlash, and indeed there was sufficient evidence, in periods, to show that the Wolves’ determination to do this had been there from the outset.  It just happened to be stymied by the visitors’ ability to conjure up the most thrilling of tries, out of nothing.

The first five sets saw the home side exerting their physical prowess having started the game on their own line, but then ending each set further and further into Salford territory, so much so that the fifth – Warrington’s third – ended with fullback, Chris Hankinson, catching the kick, virtually on his own line, and having to contend with the charging maraud of players intent on forcing a goal-line drop-out.

Secure in the knowledge that there was support at his side, he, most daringly, released the ball backwards over his own line, which was to change the course of the whole game, from thereon.  In fact, Hankinson himself, went on to have a most impressive game throughout, returning kicks into the very faces of the opposition, linking up with play, and making two outstanding try-saving tackles.

Salford, with the possession he had provided, in three tackles then went the length of the field to take the lead.  Sam Stone ran at a gap between two players, thereby drawing them both in and then slipping the ball in the tackle to Nene Macdonald, who successfully turned fullback, Matt Dufty, inside out, before crossing between the posts.

The inspiration this brought was more than evident seven minutes later when their line speed, at one play-the-ball, pushed the Wolves further and further back with each pass so that a rushed final one found the unintended mark of Tim Lafai, who came close to doubling the scoreline.  Instead, it was the reliable boot of Marc Sneyd, who increased Warrington’s woes, with a penalty.

If the Wolves’ confidence were beginning to creak a little by this time, it was surely cracked wide open, in the very next set, when slick hands combined to put Deon Cross down the left wing, and he also added to the Wolves’ fullback’s woes by selling a most outrageous of dummies to leave him flat on the ground, for Salford’s second try.

Kallum Watkins’s recovery of possession from a Warrington touch-in-flight saw him show the utmost composure to slip the ball out from a tackle to Ethan Ryan, whose own performance was as eye-catching as any, with his constant carries to the opposition, runs along the wing, and later in the game, his reliability in sweeping up the ball from kicks into his corner which he returned with interest.

On this occasion, he proved to be the link which put Sneyd away, to ground their third try, under the posts.  With the conversion and a last minute drop-goal, the Red Devils were in quite a commanding lead, as much due to their overall performance as to the 0-19 scoreline, at half time.

It would have been quite incredible had they managed to carry this on into the second half, but with Warrington gaining and maintaining much greater possession, it was the Reds’ defence which was to be their greatest asset.

 As many as five Warrington sets-of-six over a four-minute period at the start of the half, were soaked up and eventually brought to an end by Lafai’s interception, and even when the Wolves went over for their first try, thanks to Cross’s valiant effort to prevent it, it then took the video referee eight minutes to come to a decision, which was based solely on the call of the referee.

It was a handling error and not their defence, three minutes later, that gave Ashton a clear run to the line to put the Wolves, temporarily back into the game, but it was a moment of pure magic, from Man of the Match, Sneyd, to send a guided missile from his boot into the hands of Cross.

Much has been said, with considerable justification, about the strike power of Salford’s centres, but there is now a growing respect for the accomplishments of their two wingers.  Cross’s skill in taking that ball so cleanly as he was diving over the line was quite incredible.

Not to be forgotten, however, great praise should be heaped on the Salford forwards who shirked absolutely nothing against a much bigger and stronger pack, undertaking all the ‘in-between’ hard work that forwards have to do.  It was also good to welcome Loghan Lewis and Harvey Wilson on their debuts.  Lewis certainly added some considerable go-forward to the team, on his introduction, while Wilson can only be admired for his willingness to mix-it with individuals of far greater size than he.

If next weekend’s fixture is to produce another double, it will have to be over St Helens, our next opponents, and that is going to be a considerable ask of them, when you consider how few and far between victories over the Saints have been, even at home, over the decades.  Another performance along these lines, however, would certainly put the possibility of such very much into the frame.

MAY PLAYER OF THE MONTH NOMINEES REVEALED

It’s time to vote for your May Player of the Month.

Almost midway through 2024, Paul Rowley’s Salford Red Devils sit sixth in the Betfred Super League and are right amongst the battle for a playoff position.

The month of May brought fixtures against Huddersfield Giants, Leigh Leopards and the reigning world champions, Wigan Warriors.

A storming first-half display the John Smith’s Stadium was enough to see-off the Giants, who almost staged a late comeback.

Nene Macdonald scored twice, with Ethan Ryan also finishing an outstanding team try on another fantastic night in West Yorkshire.

In between a weeks’ rest due to Challenge Cup action, the Red Devils did suffer back-to-back defeats against the Leopards and the Warriors, but had their moments in each game where momentum could have swung.

Across the three games, four players stood out above rest, so here are your Player of the Month nominees.

It feels like every week we’re highlighting the brilliance of Nene Macdonald.

The PNG international still leads the league in post-contact metres and continues to be one of our top performers, week on week.

As does the skipper, Kallum Watkins – our next nominee.

A player who sets the standard and rarely dips from the world class levels that have seen him win multiple major honours during his illustrious career.

Since returning from injury, Ollie Partington has been an ever-present in the team at 13.

With some fierce competition from Joe Shorrocks, who himself has been a brilliant addition to the squad, Partington’s performances have been outstanding across May.

Our final nominee is Deon Cross, who has taken-up a familiar role – but new since joining Salford – on the wing.

Signing a new two-year deal in the off-season, the England Knights international has continued his exciting development under our coaching staff.

So, who is your winner this month? Make sure to vote below and head to our social channels to give your reasons!

BRIERLEY: “OUR CLUB CAPTAIN IS THE PERFECT EXAMPLE OF WHO KIDS CAN LOOK UP TO…”

Ryan Brierley believes players like Kallum Watkins can be an inspiration to up and coming young talent in our newly-awarded Elite Academy.

Today’s announcement is a massive step in the right direction for the entire club, with plans to build on the already strong infrastructure in place and nurture young, local talent into players who could one day represent Salford Red Devils.

One of our Own, Ryan Brierley didn’t come through the ranks at the club, but knows just what it means to represent his boyhood team – and wants others to have the same experience.

Speaking exclusively to our YouTube channel, the fullback was asked how he feels to see a new generation of players now given the opportunity to progress through their grassroots clubs’, into the Red Devils’ Elite Academy.

“I think that’s the exciting thing when you’re looking behind your shoulder, there’s people trying to take your shirt – and there’s a pathway there to take that,” he said.

“We’ve probably felt guilt over recent years that we’ve not created many youngsters, but I think if you look at our captain, Kallum Watkins, it shouldn’t have taken him that long to end up back at Salford, he should’ve been here a lot sooner.

“People can aspire to be people like Kallum, who is an England international and is now the club captain.

“I know as a young kid that you always focus on your idols; not so much teams, but you focus on certain players.

“I think our club captain is a perfect example of someone who kids can look up to, idolise – and I suppose it’s an exciting opportunity from top looking down to see the young kids coming through, and want to play for Salford.

“I think that’ll be the big difference in having a pathway. Not many kids idolise or want to play for Salford, but I’d love to change that narrative and now we’ve got our own academy, that can start to happen.”

To see our full chat with Ryan, click below.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V WARRINGTON

The Red Devils celebrated their return to the Salford Community Stadium for a home fixture, on Saturday, with a most impressive and much deserved victory over near neighbours, Warrington Wolves.

Almost as if to underline the unity which Paul Rowley has created within his group of players, he had provided them, in the form of a game plan, with a blueprint to put the Wolves to the sword, which they carried out, if not for the full eighty minutes, at the most crucial points of the game.

For the second week in succession, this was based on the domination of his pack over their opponents, and in this respect he must have been extremely pleased, and indeed proud, of the way they undertook this, from the very first carry, right through to the final whistle, with prop, Jack Ormondroyd leading the way, in what might be argued to have been his best performance in a Salford jersey.

His hit-ups were tremendous, and the last two of the first half were significant in themselves, with the first setting-up the position for Marc Sneyd’s drop-goal, and then after the restart, a strong carry forward in which, Warrington’s second rower, Joe Philbin received some collateral damage, which necessitated his brief withdrawal for attention.

Alongside him, mention must also be given to the rejuvenated Andrew Dixon, who appears to have made the move from second-row to prop in great style, but uses the running skills of his former position to great effect in the middle, whilst winger Ethan Ryan was positively involved throughout the game in both attack and defence.

What more can one say about Tim Lafai?  Every time he takes the field he pulls out something out of the ordinary, and Saturday was no exception, with his twice handing-off of opposite centre, Stefan Ratchford on his thirty metre race to the line, on nine minutes, for the opening try.

A second one, giving them back-to-back scores, might well have followed, when a change of tactics saw slick passing open up a gap for Ryan Brierley to go through from Kallum Watkins’s off-load, only for the fullback to be stopped ten metres from the line.

Not for the only time, however, the game was to swing away from them, a few minutes later, when Warrington had three back-to-back sets from a penalty and a touch-in-flight, leading to the son of former Salford Head Coach, Karl Harrison, James Harrison’s simple try by the posts, which put them ahead with their successful goal kick.

It was George Williams’s in-goal end-of-set kicks, however, on which the Wolves relied most, though with a somewhat checkered overall outcome.  There were four of them throughout the first half, with both first and last rolling dead, and giving Salford two seven-tackle sets from the twenty-metre restart.  The second, whilst being better in itself, brought no result as fullback, Matt Dufty, was unable to take advantage of the opportunity, giving the Reds another seven-tackle restart.

The third, however, was absolutely on target, giving the impression of rolling dead but holding up long enough for the kicker to get around Brierley to register their second try for a 4-10 lead. 

Something as simple as a penalty from the subsequent kick-off, though, brought another swing in momentum, with the Red Devils gaining chance to attack the visitors’ line, thereby giving Joe Mellor his first try for Salford, under the posts direct from a play-the-ball, with Sneyd’s kick thus bringing the scores level, for a brief ten minutes.

Despite early Salford pressure, it was the visitors who opened the second half scoring with a penalty goal, which swung the single-point lead in their favour.  Credit to the Salford players, they promptly refocused themselves upon putting matters to rights.

Probably the most overworked official for the match was the video referee, who was brought into action on no less than five occasions, each time confirming the on-field decision of the referee.  Consequently, the game’s final and decisive try, which came on 71 mins, did just that.

Three times Brierley came close to scoring throughout the game, and three times he was thwarted – the third time by an off-the-ball tackle as it rolled around in the in-goal area.  The video ref has only two buttons as options to press – TRY & NO TRY, which relate as to whether a try has been scored or not.  Because there had been no try actually scored on the field, the big screen indicated that, but verbally it was confirmed to the referee that Brierley should be awarded a penalty try.

With a five point lead then to protect, Salford most effectively managed the game for the remaining seven minutes, just as they had done for twenty-five, at London, the week before, to become only the second team to have inflicted defeat on this high-flying Warrington side.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: LONDON V SALFORD

It might not have been an all-singing all-dancing performance from the Salford Red Devils, on their visit to London, last Saturday, but in terms of efficiency in getting the job done and securing the important two league points, there can be no complaints at all.

Following the disappointment in their last outing, at Castleford, the players were all too well-aware that teams at the foot of the table can present as great a danger, particularly when they are at home, as teams at or near the top, and had clearly determined to ensure that that did not happen again.

To this end, therefore, priority had clearly been given to defence, and keeping their try line intact, in which they not only proved to be sufficiently able, but also had made a most accurate pre-match assessment.

Fixtureless weekends, although helpful in the medium and long term, bringing respite from the weekly hurly-burly of Super League and an opportunity for recovery from minor injuries, can, however, in the short term bring its own problems, with a certain small degree of ring-rustiness creeping in.

This, to a certain extent, seemed to be the case for Salford on attack, particularly in the first half, with timings of supporting runs and passes slightly below their norm, so that a number of scoring chances went begging. 

Two breaks down the left flank, both came to nothing when a score seemed imminent.  The first by Deon Cross was well supported by Marc Sneyd, but, unfortunately, he overran his winger, whose pass would have had to have gone forward in order to have been taken, while Shane Wright’s break ended with his having to take the fullback’s tackle as he had no-one close enough to pass to.

In order to break down the eager, hard-working defence of London they needed especially to build prolonged pressure, but errors prevented this, with dropped passes and end-of-set kicks going over the dead-ball line, the latter of which had the double whammy of presenting the Broncos with seven-tackle sets from the twenty-metre restarts.

What was needed above all was a consecutive number of back-to-back sets to wear down the opposition, but in fact it was London who were first to benefit from this with the opening try of the game coming from four such sets as a result of a Salford touch-in-flight, a penalty, and a forward pass on the Reds’ one extremely brief possession of the ball.  The resultant scrum from that last, gave them numerical advantage on their left edge to go in at the corner, in the 19th minute.

Realising that trying to go wide around the Broncos defence was not paying dividends Salford turned to what had shown to be a simpler and more effective process – that of strong forward drives up-field.  One, in the 25th minute started with Ryan Brierley taking the ball five metres out from his posts.  His forward carry was then followed by five drives up-field, aided by a set-restart on the third, and finished by Brierley’s half break to the line with his offload to Kallum Watkins for his first try of the season.  The first of Sneyd’s two successful conversions gave Salford the small but extremely important two-point half-time lead.

Signs that the half-time interval had been well spent came as early as three minutes after the restart, when a second set of possession was gained from a forced goal-line drop-out and an excellent cut-out pass from Sneyd to Cross put him in at the corner, similar in some respects to the Broncos’ opener.

The crucial incident of the second half, however, was the dismissal of King Vuniyayawa for what was deemed by the video referee to have been a dangerous tackle.  One can only praise, thereafter, the tactics and game management of the Salford players.  Slender as an eight-point lead might be, it was all they had, and they were totally committed to retaining it.

From that point onwards, the Broncos had barely a sniff at the Salford line.  They were almost totally contained in their own half, often starting their sets in the tightest of corners and barely being able to get past the twenty-metre line before having to take their end-of-set kicks.

Adding further to their score, whilst highly desirable was not absolutely essential, and retaining possession for each full set took priority with any chance of a repeat set being taken.  Sneyd’s, now impeccable, high kicks to the exceptional Nene Macdonald, caused panic within the home ranks on numerous occasions, and the centre’s pats backwards invariably found a Salford player.

The overturning of the on-field decision by the video referee, on Tim Lafai’s try, five minutes from the end, came as a complete surprise to everyone on the field, all of whom had taken up positions for its subsequent conversion attempt .Had it been allowed, it would have been some reward for the Red Devils’ valiant efforts in retaining their lead in such a convincing manner, in such adversity as they had found themselves.

KALLUM WATKINS NAMED IN ROUND 6 TEAM OF THE WEEK

Kallum Watkins has been named in the Betfred Super League Team of the Week.

Our captain continues to set the standard with sublime performances in the back-row, week-on-week.

On Rivals Round, a 32-22 victory over Leigh Leopards, Watkins made 30 tackles and 117 metres across the 80 minutes.

It was a fourth win in six league games for Salford Red Devils, with a trip to Castleford Tigers next up on Friday evening.

We would like to congratulate Kallum on another well-deserved inclusion.

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: ST HELENS V SALFORD

Whilst it might be true that ‘everything comes to those who wait’, it has to be said that forty-four years is a considerable length of time to have waited –  half a lifetime, in fact – for that it is how long it had been since a Salford team has won away, at St Helens. 

On a total of forty-one occasions (the numerical discrepancy attributable to the Reds’ seasons out of the top flight and the pandemic on the one hand, and loop fixtures, cup ties if any, and play off games on the other) their fans have turned up at, first, Knowsley Rd, and later the Totally Wicked Stadium, with at least some measure of hope that their favourites would come up with a win, all to no avail as, on each of those occasions, the Saints extended their winning run with another victory.

Until last Friday, that is, when, at long last, it all came to an end.  Certainly, the travelling fans will have, once again, had some cause for optimism, with the Saints having produced a less than stellar performance, the previous week against Leigh, whilst Salford seem to have gelled together as a team far more quickly than many other Super League sides.

 That latter undoubtedly needed to be the case as the home side set to, to gain the ascendency from the outset, and the Red Devils needed all their defensive expertise to keep their line intact as wave after wave of onslaught was thrown at them.  On 6 mins, great tackling on Sironen succeeded in holding him up over the line, and then three minutes later, forced a Saints’ mid-set error, close to the Salford line.

Defending the line from a scrum, however, is much more problematic, with so few players in so much space, and in the tenth minute the Saints exploited that to send Welsby over for a crucially-unconverted try, with Dodd adding a second, eight minutes later.

Their ascendency was broken, almost immediately, thereupon,  by Marc Sneyd’s using the wind to hang the ball in the air from the kick-off, thereby causing havoc in the St Helens ranks and the Red Devils’ gaining some much-needed possession in good field position.

It was Salford’s turn now to turn on the pressure, and if there were evidence that they might, at any stage, steal the win, it was the way they then put the home defence to the sword testing it throughout the following ten minutes.  Three times they went close, once in the left-hand corner, immediately followed likewise by Kallum Watkins towards the right, both on 22 mins, and then two minutes later, a collision, which would have stood further video-referee scrutiny, with Walmsley denying Ryan Brierley the chance to get to the ball from a kick into the in-goal area.

Nevertheless, they got their just rewards on 24 mins, when Deon Cross scored in the left-hand corner to open the visitors’ account.  Saints might have had difficulty with their goalkicking, but with yet another one hundred percent record – three from the touchline – on its way, Sneyd reduced the arears to a mere two points.

Even so, Saints were to have the final say of the half, capitalising on a couple of Salford errors, to send Percival in under the posts, for a try which he then converted to restore the home lead to eight points.

It has been said that the 43rd minute dismissal of Percival was the turning point of the game, but that might be rather too simplistic, because little in the way of outcomes on the field actually changed, for a while.

Players are so used to temporary, ten-minute sin-binnings of opponents, which require them to make that period really count in terms of points on the board, but total dismissal is quite different enabling patience, composure, and pressure building, over a protracted period of time.

For the following fifteen minutes, however, the Salford players threw caution to the wind in their endeavours to score at virtually every play, and consequently rather than scores it was errors only, which accrued.

The actual turning point came, when, against all expectations, Dodd scored his second try, which this time he converted to open up a 20-6 lead.  This seemed to act as a wake-up call to Salford, and from the restart there appeared to be the determination to be error-free from that point on, and a focus on the aforementioned patience and composure saw them building up the most concerted pressure of the game.

Although St Helens were able to deal with this in the short term, so relentless did it become that it was only a matter of time before their line was to be breached, and it was the strength of Nene Macdonald which enabled him, on 65 mins, to twist round in a tackle on the try line to ground the ball, and restore the long-standing, yet overturn-able, eight-point margin.

Next, a touch-in-flight by Saints winger Bennison, gave the Reds a set restart, and after Salford been endeavouring to outflank their opponents on the edges throughout the game, St Helens were caught completely unawares, by Chris Atkin’s step back inside from first receiver, to go over between the posts, on 67 mins, and all but eliminate the St Helens lead.

Not quite, though, and it required one piece of absolutely brilliant handling by Tim Lafai, followed by equally clinical finishing by Cross for his second of the evening, to put the Red Devils ahead, for the first time in the game, on 74 mins.

By the time the teams had lined for the short kick-off, which was taken by St Helens, there was still three minutes remaining.  Salford fans’ thoughts might well have then wandered back to other such occasions when their hosts had snatched the game, at the death – most recently from Matty Smith’s post-hooter drop-goal, Regan Grace’s last minute try in the corner, and a controversial video-refereeing call of a try, which many thought might have been overturned for a double movement.

Not this time, however.  Try as they did to force their way over St Helens were held short on each occasion – Walmsley losing the ball in the tackle which halted their closest call –  and for the first time since 12th January, 1980, the Red Devils held on to win a game, which will stand proudly alongside their 1996 second round Challenge Cup victory over Wigan, in the minds of all Salford fans.

MARC SNEYD AND KALLUM WATKINS INCLUDED IN ROUND 3 TEAM OF THE WEEK

Salford Red Devils duo Marc Sneyd and Kallum Watkins have been included in the Betfred Super League Team of the Week.

Round 3 saw Paul Rowley’s side earn two valuable points against Hull KR, with Deon Cross and Chris Hankinson on the scoresheet.

After the game, all the attention was on Man of the Match, Marc Sneyd, who was flawless with ball in hand.

His kicking – both in-play and off the tee – was, in the end, the difference on the scoreline. Two conversions, two penalty-goals and one very crucial drop-goal were some key stats from his stellar performance.

Skipper, Kallum Watkins, continues to set the tone with his performances in the back-row.

A hard-worker in defence, but with the ability to piece a gap going forward, it was he who created the opportunity for Hankinson’s try with a well-timed burst up the middle.

Congratulations to both lads on their worthy inclusions!

RED DEVILS IN DEPTH: SALFORD V HULL KR

After as many as seven games against Saturday’s visitors, Hull KR, and only one victory to celebrate – last season’s Magic Weekend – Salford fans might well have felt a little trepidation ahead of this one, with a sense of déjà vu hanging over them.  There was no need to worry, though, for the team turned on arguably its best performance of the season, taking control of events from the outset, and seeing it right through to the final whistle.

Conditions, one might have thought, remembering the fast slick handling that became their hallmark, in late 2022, would probably have been against them, with an extremely wet, slippery ball to handle, and equally treacherous conditions underfoot, but to many people’s surprise, it was they, who mastered all this far and away the better of the sides.

So what was it that they did so well, which laid the platform for their second home win of the season?  Like every game, the foundations were based around a dominant, robust, hard-working pack, led by those stalwart of the side, Brad Singleton and Kallum Watkins.

 This was in evidence from the very first set, when they received the ball, from the kick-off, on their ten-metre line, but instead of being pinned down to a ten to twenty metre gain, they finished the set in their opponents’ half having made over forty metres upfield.  And that set the prelude to all the hard drives and heavy yardage they were to make during the remainder of the match.

The team as a whole was prepared to work as hard as was needed and this showed through in their defence, which was immaculate.  They kept their shape, almost unerringly, throughout the whole of the game, and there was one five-minute spell from the 26th to 31st mins, in which they had to face five consecutive sets of six, at the end of which their line was still intact.

Their willingness to forage for the ball was far the superior, and it invariably seemed to be they, who were first to any loose ball.  Their preparedness to give away back-to-back sets by getting a hand to deflect a possibly telling pass, during that five-minute period, was much of the reason that it lasted so long.

When in possession, they concentrated on getting to the end of their sets, without taking too risky offloads.  Around the play-the-ball, hooker, Amir Bourouh showed the extent to which he has slotted into the side at hooker, and he dictated play around the ruck, throughout.  It was he, who spotted the Robins’ lack of numbers on the blindside, on 34 mins, sent the ball out to the right, where Chris Hankinson went in for his first, Super League try for Salford.

Although not recognised as a winger, both he, and fellow winger, Deon Cross, have done extremely well in a position, which, in the modern game carries much responsibility, as two thirds of the vital back three.  Both have become fine centres over recent years, but their moves out onto the wings has not fazed them at all, and both were try scorers, on the night.

The third member of the said back three was the cause of a last-minute change prior to kick-off, with Ryan Brierley pulling out, and Chris Atkin being thrown in at the deep-end, into the fullback role.  If anyone had any qualms as to how he would cope, they should not have done, having seen how he has managed to slot into, seemingly, any position on the field.

Indeed, his first involvement, in only the third minute, was to see him halt Ryan Hall in full-flight, only ten metres from the try line.  Even more eye-catching was his magnificent defence, 24 mins in, when he bravely dived onto the ball to make it safe from a kick onto his line, with sundry Hull players bearing down on him giving him little room for error.

Then finally, of course, there was Man of the Match, Marc Sneyd.  His kicking game has been a lynch pin in all our matches to date, but he really came into his own on Saturday, with his various types of kick, which time and again turned the Robins’ defensive line inside-out and round-about. It was his low kick into the in-goal area that was grounded by Cross for the opening try of the game, in the 14th minute.

Add on a one hundred percent goal-kicking record, not just in this game, but throughout the season, and he has become one of the stand-out players in Super League, to date. His first two successes, on Saturday, were both from the touchline, and on opposite sides of the field, but both delivered with laser-like accuracy.

So, an excellent all-round team performance, delivering a clever, well-thought out game-plan devised by Head Coach, Paul Rowley, and his coaching staff, in which the strengths of the Salford players were fundamental. 

WATKINS: “IT’S GOING TO BE FIREWORKS!”

Skipper, Kallum Watkins is expecting fireworks when Salford Red Devils go head-to-head with Leeds Rhinos at Headingley next Friday.

With pre-season preparations all-but over, 2024’s edition of the Betfred Super League is almost upon us, and yesterday’s launch gave us a sneak preview of what to expect.

Some of the countries best players converged on the Aviva Studios in Manchester to speak to major broadcasters and journalists about the season ahead.

Joining Head Coach, Paul Rowley and Cade Cust was our ever-reliable club captain, Kallum Watkins, who gave us his thoughts on a mouthwatering Round 1 clash.

Speaking to our YouTube channel, Watkins said: “It’s going to be fireworks, isn’t it?

“It was kind of written with everything going on in the off-season that it was going to be the first game for us.”

Watkins continued: “To play at Headingley, it’s such an iconic place, I had so many great years there and it makes it all the more special to do it with Salford as well, which is a club that means a hell-of-a-lot to me, so exciting times.

“We’ve got a couple of players that were here in the past with Brodie (Croft) and (Andy) Ackers, which makes it more intense, we’re expecting fireworks that’s for sure.

“That’s what it’s all about, that’s what the games all about and getting the season underway, and getting the result at Leeds.”

Last season, a fantastic team performance secured a rare win at a ground where Salford have had so much misfortune over the years.

When asked what we have to do to replicate that, our number 12 said: “Look, we’ve got to come up with a great performance to get our season started; and how we’ll plan, how we’ll prepare will impact that, so we can focus on Leeds.

“It’s a week away now, so it’s exciting times and we can prepare the best we can. For us, it’s about competing at a high level and making sure we’re ready.”

“They’re a top side, they’ve signed really well, so for us, we’ve got to embrace the opportunities we’re given. This is a big game, something we’re excited about and we want to take it with both hands.”

To watch our full interview with the skipper, head to our YouTube channel here.

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