Written by John Davidson
Hooker Joey Lussick says there is no secret to the rise of Salford Red Devils, with the club’s ascension just down to hard work and self-belief.
On Saturday Salford will play in the Challenge Cup final, it’s first in 51 years. Last year the club made the Super League grand final, the first in its history.
Despite being one of the lowest spenders on players and facilities in the UK, the Red Devils have continued to impress. Lussick joined the club in 2018, after just one NRL appearance for Manly, and has thrived at the English outfit in the past two years.
“I wouldn’t say there is a secret to be honest just hard work, believing in your players and staff, utilising your strengths as an individual and as a team, and then joining that all together under the guidance of ‘Watto’,” he told Everything Rugby League.
“You could say and people will accept that a lot of players at Salford just wanted an opportunity to play, from either being asked to leave or have been moved on from a club, not being given a proper opportunity.
“So the players we have at the club, not all of them, aren’t necessarily in it for the money they are happy to sacrifice money for the opportunity.
“Also with that, it’s obviously great management from ‘Watto’ and ‘Bleasey’ and great identification of the players that they have targeted.”
Head coach Ian Watson has done a tremendous job at Salford since he was appointed in 2015. Watson has taken the Red Devils from seconds away to relegation to two major finals with the space of a year.
The former Welsh international was born and raised in Salford and started his own playing career at the club in 1995. In a nearly 20-year career he had stints with Workington Town, Swinton, Widnes, Rochdale, Oldham, Halfiax and Leigh as a scrum-half and hooker.
🤩 Who’s getting excited?
🎟️ Purchase a virtual cup final ticket and receive a souvenir ticket memento following the event!
— Salford Red Devils (@SalfordDevils) October 15, 2020
Widely known in the sport as ‘Watto’, the 43-year-old has arguably been the main factor in the rise of the Red Devils, through his coaching style and the way he has been able to rebuild and mold a team together each season.
“He is firstly very, very hard-working and passionate,” Lussick said.
“Always trying to give us players every opportunity to put our best foot forward and give us as a team everything within his knowledge to get the win.
“I would happily say he is very knowledgeable and smart when it comes to rugby and he makes you believe in yourself and buy into the team’s culture.
“He loves a laugh but at the same time always keeps you level-headed and your mind on the task ahead.
“As many people would agree with ‘Watto’ knows the people he brings into his team and for reasons he believes will benefit the club and also the team.
“He believes in you and gives you all the confidence to help you grow.
“And lastly he is very honest and to me that’s a big thing when it comes to a coach to be able to tell you where and when you’re going wrong but will always help you to get better.”