Written by John Davidson
Photo by Salford Red Devils
A new era has began at the Salford Red Devils.
Grand finalists in 2019, of the XVII who played for Salford in that match at Old Trafford against St Helens only five remain at the club now in Tui Lolohea, Ken Sio, Krisnan Inu, Lee Mossop and Greg Burke.
The rest have gone. Coach Ian Watson, the man who led the Red Devils to the decider and also to Wembley last year, has also departed.
Former Saints assistant Richard Marshall has taken the reins and nine new players have come in for 2021, with eight others leaving. It’s one of the largest turnovers in Super League amongst any of the clubs this year.
It will be Marshall’s job, his first chance in the top flight, to rebuild at Salford and get this new squad to unify and compete.
For many seasons the club has punched above its weight, and that again is the aim at the AJ Bell Stadium.
“At the beginning of the new season we sat down as a team and spoke about what we wanted to achieve and goals we’re setting,” New signing Jack Wells, who has arrived from Wigan, told Everything Rugby League.
“It’s a new club, it’s a new coach, new players, we’ve just got to glue together and have that chemistry about us, because that’s all that matters – getting wins on the field.
“We’re not expecting silverware. But it would be good if we do get to that point, but as a new club and a new squad we just need to crack on in training and get all plays nailed on so we can show everyone what we can do on the field because we’ve got some great halfbacks now.
“We’ve got some great middles we’ve signed, some great back-rowers. I just cant wait to see what this season brings us.”
🙌 Salford Red Devils has appointed George Harborne as the Club's new commercial director.
👌 Harborne brings with him a wealth of experience working at an elite level of the sports commercial landscape!
— Salford Red Devils (@SalfordDevils) February 17, 2021
Wells is part of the new breed at Salford that includes Joe Burgess and Morgan Escare from Wigan, Matty Costello from St Helens, Darcy Lussick from Toronto, Harvey Livett from Warrington, Danny Addy from Leigh, Sam Luckley from Newcastle and Elijiah Taylor from the NRL.
The Red Devils will again have experience in the halves in Kevin Brown and Tui Lolohea, while Andy Ackers, Chris Atkin and Danny Addy will duke it out for the hooking role. With Niall Evalds joining Castleford the starting fullback role is free and new contenders for it include Escare, Dan Sarginson and Elliot Kear.
Salford’s forward pack has plenty of size, grit and power in it with the likes of Mossop, Pauli Pauli, Sebastine Ikahihifo, Lussick, Taylor, Burke, Ryan Lannon, Oliver Roberts and Josh Johnson to call on.
But Wells says defence has been the main aim during the club’s pre-season campaign.
Working hard on defensive structures and being difficult to break down as been a major focus for Marshall’s men.
“Rich was saying at the beginning of the year he just wants us to be a good defensive team,” Wells said.
“When other teams play against us they want to be fearful about our D.
“So we’re working really hard on our D this year, that’s something we’ve really knuckled down on.”