Category: Rugby

Season opener promises to be solid test for Marshall’s men

Salford Red Devils head coach Richard Marshall is looking forward to an “exciting time for the club” ahead of the 2021 Betfred Super League opener against St Helens on Friday.

Marshall will take charge of his first competitive game since becoming head coach at the AJ Bell Stadium, with a mouth-watering clash in store against back-to-back champions Saints.

And following a successful pre-season, capped off with a win against 2020 Grand-Finalists Wigan Warriors, the Red Devils boss is pleased with what he has seen from his players.

Marshall said: “I have been welcomed with open arms.

‘There has been a lot of changes at the club, obviously coaches, staff, players. But with change comes freshness, new ideas and invigorated players.

“We have had a wonderful pre-season, getting to know the group, the strengths, the weaknesses, where we can improve as a team and being collaborative in our approach to the game.

“This is a new team, we will probably have six or seven players making their debut for the club on the weekend and it will take time for us to gel as a team – learn each other’s nuances – but at the same time we just want to throw them out there and go against the best team in the country.

“I’m looking forward to improving each and every individual at this club.”

Whilst the Red Devils face a tough task against the reigning champions, Marshall is eagerly anticipating the challenge that lies ahead.

“We want to improve on last year,” stated Marshall.

“We know it will be difficult against St Helens but at the same time it is a challenge we are going to relish.

“Going up against the current champions on Friday is really exciting and we are looking forward to that challenge.”

You can support Marshall and his men in 2021 by purchasing a season ticket HERE, or by phoning the ticket office on 0161 786 1570.

Rewatch our 12-10 victory the last time we played Saints on RDTV.

Written by: Will Dickson

MATCH REPORT | SALFORD RED DEVILS 20-6 WIGAN WARRIORS | SUNDAY 14TH MARCH 2021

Salford Red Devils ran out 20-6 winners in a preseason friendly against neighbours Wigan Warriors at the AJ Bell Stadium.

In what was Salford’s first runout of 2021 and head coach Richard Marshall’s maiden game in charge, the Mother’s Day meeting with Wigan proved a solid test for the Red Devils who looked comfortable for the majority of the game.

After some back-and-forth play in the opening period, Kallum Watkins opened the scoring in the 19th minute after getting onto the end of a neat grubber kick from Tui Lolohea.

The visitors responded with a try of their own minutes later, Sam Powell powering over the Salford line from close range to get Wigan on the scoreboard.

Just before the half-hour mark, Ken Sio made sure Salford went into the break in front in what was almost a carbon copy of Watkins’ try. Lolohea breached the Wigan line with another clever grubber kick that Sio was able to reach first and ground down the right.

Half-time: Red Devils 12 – 6 Warriors

Salford came out looking strong in the second forty with some of the new boys like Elijah Taylor and Jack Wells adding some freshness to the lineup.

Watkins had a great chance to double his try tally in the 54th minute but was pushed into touch just before he could ground the ball in the right corner.

It was Morgan Escare, against his old club, who extended Salford’s lead though in the 64th minute. Jack Wells opened up the Wigan defence with a neat grubber kick of his own that Escare chased down, grounding the ball on the right flank.

With less than five minutes to go, Krisnan Inu finished off what was a solid performance from the Red Devils with a try of his own, barging over on the left.

The game provided a good chance for Richard Marshall to experiment with his new side and puts Salford in good stead for the season opener against St. Helens in just under two weeks time.

Fulltime: Red Devils 20 – 6 Warriors

Salford Red Devils: Escare, Sio, Watkins, Sarginson, Inu, Lolohea, Brown, Ormondroyd, Ackers, Ikahihifo, Lann0n, Pauli, Addy, Atkin, Costello, Aspey, Johnson, Livett, Taylor, Roberts, Wells, Williams, Greenwood.

Wigan Warriors: Hardaker, Hanley, Isa, McDonnell, Bibby, Leuluai, Smith, Singleton, Powell, Partington, Bateman, Farrell, Havard, Bullock, Byrne, Clark, Clubb, Halsall, Sutton, Kilner, Nicholson, O’Neill, Roden, Shorrocks, Smithies.

Salford tries: Watkins, Sio, Escare, Inu

Salford goals: Inu (2/4)

Wigan tries: Powell

Wigan goals: Hardaker

Referee: Christopher Kendall

Image credit: Steve McCormick

 

RUGBY LEAGUE’S QUALITY STREET GANG (7) – BILL SHEFFIELD

Salford’s former long-serving second row forward, Bill Sheffield, relates memories of his rugby league career.

CONTENTS

Part 1 – HIS EARLY CAREER

Part 2 – MEMORIES OF HIS TIME WITH SALFORD

Part 3 – HE REMEMBERS HIS SALFORD TEAMMATES

Part 4 – HIS POST SALFORD CAREER

                                                          Part 1 – HIS EARLY CAREER

Hailing, as he does from St Helens, Bill Sheffield found it very easy to become a supporter of the Saints, on account of the fact that the very first game he ever attended was watching them play in their 13-2 Challenge Cup Final triumph over Halifax, at Wembley, in 1956.

“My father was an avid supporter of St Helens and after that first introduction to the game, I became as big a fan as he was.  I played a bit of rugby at school, but, in those days, they didn’t seem to have a lot of competitive games.”

Indeed, it was not until he left school and took up work in a local garage, that, as a result of three of his colleagues there, Frank Barrow, Dickie Evans and David Harrison, playing for the Saints, Bill started to go with them at lunchtime into the local park, for a throw about with a ball.

“It was Dickie who really encouraged me to go to St Helens, which I did, and being only sixteen, I was put into the ‘C’ team, which was for under seventeens.  I had never really played in a competitive game before, but there were some very good coaches there at that time, who gave me a lot of advice and encouragement, and so I made my way through into the ‘B’ team for under nineteens.

“We had a really successful side that year playing in four finals, two of which we won.  Twelve of the lads were actually signed by St Helens. Not all of them made it through to the first team, but people like Alan Bishop, Joe Robinson and Les Jones all became top-flight players.

“We used to train twice a week in the evenings because of course we all had jobs, with the games being played on the Saturday afternoon.  That was the case for almost every club, and it wasn’t until I came to Salford that I first  experienced Friday night rugby.

“I spent two seasons continuing my progress through the ‘A’ team, and then, aged twenty, got the opportunity to make my debut in the first team.  It was the televised 1969 Champions v Cup Holders game, away at Castleford, following their Wembley victory over Salford, with St Helens having finished the season as Champions.

“I had gone with the team as travelling reserve, and not expecting to play at all, but prop, Cliff Watson, went down with a very bad migraine, which led to me being drafted into the team at second row, alongside Eric Prescott.  Part way through the second half I surprised everyone by taking the ball up and breaking through before rounding the fullback to score.”

Players’ contracts, in those days were primarily around their signing on fee, which in Bill’s case was a thousand pounds – a most substantial amount at that time – alongside weekly wage details, but, unlike today’s contracts of two to three seasons duration, players back then signed for life!  Or not, as Bill was shortly to discover.

“I was at the ground one day, part way through my first season, and was sent for by the Chairman, who informed me that Rochdale were interested in me, and that St Helens were keen on a player exchange deal involving Kelvin Earle, who had twice been on Challenge Cup winning teams, and upon leaving Saints at the end of his first stint there, had gone to Bradford where he had won yet another medal.”

Rochdale, at that time were one of the lowly sides in the league, so for Bill it was very much a case of one extreme to the other, but not always the way round that one might have expected.

“At Saints we had to provide all our own training kit, including our own boots.  I even had to share boots and running spikes with one of the other players because neither of us could afford both.  When I went to Rochdale, though we were really well looked after, with everything we needed, including new boots, being provided,”

On the field, however, things were nowhere near as good.

“We went to Hunslet for the last match of the season, where one time great, Geoff Gunney, by this time in his forties, won the man of the Match award, and we were well beaten.  Fortunately, during the close season there was a change of coach, with the renowned international centre, Frank Myler, coming in, which led in turn to the signing of a number of better quality players.

“Frank then moulded that group into a really good team, which, within a relatively short period of time, ended up in both the John Player and the BBC2 Floodlit Cup Finals, in the 1972/3 season.  So, after that initial set back, I ended up having a couple of really good years with them, and I have had a great deal of time for Rochdale, ever since.

“En route to the Floodlit Cup Final, we had to play Salford at the Willows, in the semi-final, on a rather unpleasant evening in the depth of winter.  The pitch, in those days held water quite badly and the middle even had to be covered with sand.  The Salford backs were all speedsters but on that quagmire, they couldn’t make any impression on us, and we controlled the game extremely well.

“Warren Ayres, our centre, had a superb match, and ran in two crucial tries, to take us through to the final against St Helens.  I’d played against the Saints a couple of time since leaving, but this time it was going to be in a cup final.

“Whenever you return to a former club, you always have a certain extra keenness about you to do well, but, on this occasion, it was the crowd that really got onto me as they always used to with one of their former players, and it was that which geed me up all the more so.  We didn’t win but were extremely unlucky to lose 5-2, because we had a try disallowed for an alleged knock on, but I wish we had had a video referee that afternoon to have checked it out.”

DECLAN PATTON SIGNS FOR SALFORD

Declan Patton has joined Salford Red Devils, ahead of the 2021 season.

The 25-year-old made over 100 senior appearances for Betfred Super League side Warrington Wolves, including a try-scoring Grand Final display at Old Trafford.

During his time with the Wolves, Patton helped them win the Challenge Cup and League Leaders Shield.

Patton said: “I’m over the moon to be joining Salford. It’s a great set up here.

“I know Rich (Marshall) and some of lads already, but now I’m enjoying getting to know some new faces.

“This is a fresh start and I’m really looking forward to it.”

Supporters can hear more from Patton in his exclusive interview on RDTV.

Salford Red Devils head coach Richard Marshall said: “When I arrived here, I identified some key areas where we needed to strengthen, and this signing helps us achieve that.

“Dec’s versatility means he will bring greater depth to our squad in a number of areas.

“He’s a player who I’ve worked with previously and continued to monitor ever since.

“I am confident that he will thrive in our group and we can help him unlock his full potential.”

This signing of Patton on a one-year contract, will see him link up with former teammate Harvey Livett, who has also joined the Red Devils.

Supporters can see them both in action with a 2021 season ticket. Further details can be found HERE.

Director of rugby and operations Ian Blease said: “This signing is an important one, to provide balance within our squad for the upcoming campaign.

“It has been proven that our environment is ideal for bringing the best out of players and if that happens with Dec, he will provide plenty of excitement for our supporters.

“By linking up with our coaching staff and some of his former teammates once again, I am confident he can reach new levels.”

If you are interested in sponsoring Patton, or another member of the 2021 squad, please email: hannah.kilby@salfordreddevils.net

Josh Johnson – “I do feel at home at Salford”

Salford Red Devils prop Josh Johnson’s decision to extend his stay at a place he now calls home was a “no-brainer” for the 26-year-old.

After signing an extension until 2022, Johnson is pleased to have committed his future to Salford alongside Ryan Lannon recently

Johnson said: “When it all came about it was a no-brainer for me. I have chopped and changed but I do feel at home at Salford.

“There’s some good people at the club.”

The 26-year-old is looking forward to gelling with some of the new lads that have joined ranks with the Red Devils ahead of this season with the likes of Elijah Taylor and Darcy Lussick bringing in substantial NRL experience.

“It’ll be good to take the field with them and it’s good to be around them day-to-day at training.

“The better quality we keep bringing in, like the club’s doing, it’s only going to improve us lads who are trying to get to that kind of level they’ve got to,” Johnson added.

A product of Salford’s academy, Johnson wants to help the next wave of young talent come through at the AJ Bell.

“As you get older you want to try and help the young lads come through.

“If you only get one coming through it’s a success,” Johnson said.

Supporters can join Johnson this year, by purchasing a 2021 season ticket. Further details can be found HERE.

 

 

 

Ryan Lannon – “A responsibility on us”

Salford Red Devils forward Ryan Lannon believes more players will come through the ranks at the AJ Bell Stadium over the coming years, following his contract extension until 2023. 

A product of Salford’s academy, Lannon made his senior debut in 2015 and had a brief spell at Hull Kingston Rovers, before returning in 2019.

The 25-year-old’s extension was announced alongside Josh Johnson, who he played alongside in the Red Devils youth setup – and Lannon believes they can act as role models for the next wave of young talent at Salford, who will be nurtured by the Club’s first Head of Rugby Development, Talent & Pathways, Paul Rowley.

Lannon said: “There is a bit of a responsibility on us to go round and speak to the kids who are in and around the Foundation, to tell them there is a pathway through at Salford.

“I think that’s what the Club needs. It’s only me and JJ (Josh Johnson) left at the minute, so it would be good to get other kids through and hopefully by us signing, the kids know there’s a pathway through to the first team.”

Last season saw Academy graduates Conor Aspey and Luis Roberts both make their Betfred Super League debuts for the Red Devils, with Aspey recently offered a trial.

Reflecting on his contract extension, it was a simple decision for Lannon to pledge his future to the Club.

“It was a very easy decision for me, because I’ve obviously been here most of my career,” he said.

“I had no intentions of going anywhere else, I just wanted to get it done.

“Salford was the only club in mind for me.”

Lannon is hoping the Red Devils can push on in 2021 to bring some silverware home and believes it can be done with the squad now at Salford.

“I think we’ve got a really good squad this year, we’ve got a really good balance,” he said.

“With Rich (Richard Marshall) coming in and with the experience he’s had at St Helens – with what he’s bringing into the Club, I think we’re in a better position and I think we’ll have a real good year.”

Supporters can join Lannon this year, by purchasing a 2021 season ticket. Further details can be found HERE.

2021 Betfred Super League Start Delayed

The Betfred Super League season will start on March 25, later than originally planned. 

The 2021 campaign was scheduled to begin on March 11 but following discussions with Sky Sports, Super League clubs agreed to move the season back by two weeks to increase the chances of kicking off the new season in front of fans.

Super League will continue to review the fixture schedule, details of which will be released at a later date. It can confirm that there is no change to the season end date, with the Betfred Super League Grand Final to be played on October 9 at Old Trafford.

JOSH JOHNSON & RYAN LANNON COMMIT FUTURES TO SALFORD

Josh Johnson and Ryan Lannon have both signed two-year contract extensions with Salford Red Devils.

The forwards were both already onboard for the 2021 campaign, but have now been secured until the end of the 2023 season.

Both Johnson and Lannon started their youth careers at Salford and rejoined the Club during the 2019 season, when the team finished third in the Betfred Super League table and went on to reach the Grand Final.

Head coach Richard Marshall said: “These two players have already impressed me with their attitude and commitment to the Club.

“They bring a lot to the team, especially in defence, so extending their contracts will bring some stability there.

“Both were involved with the Club as youth players too, so hopefully seeing them continue to succeed at the elite level can help inspire some talented youngsters.”

Johnson and Lannon will be joined in the pack this season by a number of new signings, including recently announced additions Elijah Taylor and Darcy Lussick.

Supporters can get behind Johnson, Lannon and their new teammates, by purchasing a 2021 season ticket. Further details can be found HERE.

Director of rugby & operations Ian Blease said: “Securing these two long-term will give us greater stability in the pack moving forward.

“Josh is a real success story, as someone who was given an opportunity by us and has taken it with both hands.

“He never looked out of place from his arrival and had progressed to the point last season, where he was imposing his dominance upon some of the best players in the competition.

“Meanwhile Ryan, is a player who simply belongs with us.

“He has a particularly strong connection with the supporters, and I know he can’t wait to be back in the stadium with them.”

If you are interested in sponsoring a member of the 2021 squad, please email: hannah.kilby@salfordreddevils.net

NEW HEAD OF STRENGTH & CONDITIONING APPOINTED

Gareth Whittaker has been appointed as Salford Red Devils’ new Head of Strength & Conditioning.

The new member of the coaching staff, who previously worked alongside Red Devils head coach Richard Marshall during their time at Warrington Wolves and England Academy, joins from Wales Rugby Union, where he has spent the last six years.

Whittaker said: “I know how Rich works. I know what he expects, so hopefully we can hit the ground running.

“My philosophy is I’m here to help the players. I’m not here to be a burden.

“My office door’s always open and if I can make a player 1% better, or give them that little bit of advice, that’s what I’m here to do.”

Supporters can hear more from Whittaker in an exclusive interview HERE on RDTV.

Marshall added: “Gareth offers us invaluable expertise, which he has gained from across the sporting landscape.

“His experience will be crucial, in a season where congested schedules could have a significant impact on all teams once again.

“He’s also somebody who I’ve worked closely with on a number of occasions before and has my complete trust, which is important as we both prepare for our first season here.”

Supporters can get behind the new Red Devils coaching staff, by purchasing a 2021 season ticket. Further details can be found HERE.

Director of rugby & operations Ian Blease said: “Gareth is a highly skilled strength and conditioner, who we’re really pleased to bring back into our sport.

“He and Rich have a close understanding, which I am sure will help us succeed over the coming years.”

PAUL ROWLEY APPOINTED IN NEW ROLE

Paul Rowley has been appointed as Salford Red Devils’ first Head of Rugby Development, Talent & Pathways.

This will see him further develop the Club’s infrastructure outside of the first team setup.

Rowley said: “Five in five is the goal. In five years’ time, we want to have five homegrown players within the squad of the first team.

“Producing our own players creates a more sustainable model and one which we can be proud of as people in the local area.”

Supporters can hear more from Rowley in his exclusive interview HERE on RDTV.

During his time with the Red Devils so far, Rowley has helped the team reach the Betfred Super League Grand Final and Coral Challenge Cup Final.

Before that, he had been head coach at Toronto Wolfpack and Leigh Centurions, while as a player he represented England international level.

Director of rugby & operations Ian Blease said: “This is the most important appointment we have made during my time at the Club.

“Every improvement to our squad enhances what our supporters will enjoy on the field next season, but through this role, we are looking to impact our standing over the next decade and beyond.

“Putting in place somebody with Paul Rowley’s experience as a player and coach, opens up a number of exciting opportunities to us.

“His experience within our first team environment and detailed knowledge of the sport within the region make him an invaluable asset and the ideal candidate to meet the challenges we face.

“I am looking forward to working with him over the coming years, as we look to shape the Salford Red Devils sides of the future.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to thank the Supporters’ Trust, for their continued support of our development pathways, and would encourage all fans to get behind their initiatives.”

The Supporters’ Trust’s 2021 fundraising focus is outlined in depth HERE.