Ahead Of Their Inaugural Away Fixture In France, Against Catalans Dragons, U19s’ Head Coach, Garreth Carvell Updates David Clegg Of The Preparations Around The Venture
Over the past ten years the annual trek down to Perpignan has become part and parcel of the season for fans, and the players of the first team, but this year, for the first time, their number will be expanded by the seventeen players, alongside the coaching and support staff, of the U19s.
It may be remembered that the Catalans Dragons U19s made their first visit to the A J Bell Stadium, last season, in what was then only a friendly game, but this year the Dragons are fully ensconced in the league, and there will be two points on offer to the victors at next Saturday’s curtain raiser to the first team fixture.
Not that we shall be among the first to have undertaken the expedition to the South of France, for, despite the friendly nature of last year’s matches, a number of Super League clubs made the trip down there, twelve months ago. This has been of some assistance to Red Devils U19s’ Head Coach, Garreth Carvell, who was keen to learn from their experiences, and perhaps avoid any potential pitfalls.
“I got in touch with Brett Hodgson, at Widnes, and Lee Crooks, who is now with the North East,” he confides, “and they put me wise to a couple of things, so I have done a bit of homework on it.
“It’s the first time a Salford U19s side will have made such a trip, and the lads are all really looking forward to it. It will also be interesting to see how they adapt to the travel, and the conditions over there.”
The lengthy journey is certainly going to be a factor, with first a flight to Barcelona, followed by a three hour coach journey across the Pyrenees, to Perpignan. The first team will be making the same journey a day earlier, whereas the Academy boys will be arriving the day before the match, at a local hostel.
“We will arrive around ten-thirty, so it will be a case of getting some sleep, then maybe a run-out, next morning, before our game, which kicks off at three o’clock,” he explains. “It’s going to be all about getting them prepared and in the right frame of mind for the game.
“After we have played we will stay and watch the first team game, before going back to the hostel, and we will be returning home on the Sunday.”
Of course the prime focus on the whole trip is the game, and performing well is essential, as this, hopefully, might lead to their winning.
“The boys who we are taking over there are all really sensible, so I am expecting them to enjoy the time there, but they will have to be fully focused on the match,” he maintains. “It will be quite an experience for them all, and something which will stand out in their memory, of their time with the Academy. It will also prepare them for future similar trips, for those who make it to the next level.”
Those fans, who watched the encounter against the Dragons, here, last season, will be fully aware of the hallmarks of physicality which surrounded the team then, and undoubtedly our players must expect the same again, this time.
“I know from experience how big and physical the French are,” Garreth recalls, “so we are expecting a tough, physical game, against a big team. Although we, ourselves may not be the biggest team around, hopefully our determination and general attitude will stand us in good stead for the game.”
It is not only the team the players will have to deal with, but also the intimidating nature of the whole environment within the Gilbert Brutus Stadium.
“With our playing before the first team game, the crowd will be pouring into the ground well before the kick-off to that match, and there should be a great atmosphere for us, by the end of ours,” he predicts. “That will be another experience that will help the lads at the next stage of their careers, if they keep pushing on. It is something else they will learn from.
“Fortunately, with it still being early in the year, the weather will not be as big an issue as the heat would have been, had we been going later in the year, so I feel confident that we have done everything we can to prepare them for the whole venture.”