When the decision to replace the Super 8s with the return of the Top 5 Play-Offs, many fans of the Red Devils were thinking in terms of ensuring a spot somewhere outside the relegation battle. The playing and coaching staff, however, have always had expectation of a far more ambitious ending to the regular season.
And so it has proved to be with not only a place in the top five, but also our highest league placing, of third, for decades. For three of our longest serving players, they will be seeing a considerable turnaround in the club’s fortunes, and status within the league, which they could only have hoped for when they first signed to come here.
It may have been a disappointing season for today’s interviewee, winger Greg Johnson, owing to a lengthy injury side-lining him for the largest part of the season, but being part of the playing squad is still keeping him well focused on the remaining fixture(s).
“Obviously I am a bit disappointed not to be involved out on the field on Friday, but I’ve been a part of the club now for six seasons, and seeing just what the boys are achieving is great. I picked up an injury at the back end of last year, but complications have kept me out for much of this season.
“I came back for one game but even then I could still feel pain in my foot and ended up having to rest it further. Since then, with the boys playing so well, I’ve found it difficult to get my place back in the team. I still play my part in helping behind the scenes, such as, with others, providing opposition for the team to play against.
“I thought we were the better team when we went to Wigan two weeks ago, but just a bit of individualism and opportunism swayed the game in their direction, and I think that Wigan will be a lot more nervous going into this game because they knew that, as a team, we had bettered them.
“The way they played last Friday, at St Helens, is evidence of just how much we had worn them down, but as a result, I am sure, we will be facing Wigan at their best when we kick off, this week. It will undoubtedly be a tough game but I think we could come through it as victors.
“Two years ago, when we played them in the semi-final of the Challenge Cup, we were in the hunt for around sixty minutes, but then a couple of lapses in concentration cost us the game, because they had all the momentum for the last twenty.
“Wigan’s biggest threat, this season, has been their outside backs, and in particular their left side with George Williams, Oliver Gildart, and Joe Burgess. I have played opposite Joe Burgess, and am happy playing against wingers of his style. It is always small, nippy individuals who cause me most trouble. Burgess is good in broken field, but you can limit his options in set plays.
“My season though will be continuing after the next two weeks, because, on 20th October, I shall be playing for Jamaica in a friendly against England Knights, at Leeds. It’s been a long time since I last played for them, aged twenty, but owing to my commitments with Salford, I have not been able to repeat the experience, until now.
“We have already qualified for the World Cup, in 2021, and this is match is part of our build up to that. We are also trying to get another game against Ireland in early November. We will be playing in our yellow black and green international jerseys, and I’ll be coming up against Niall Evalds who will be similarly engaged with the Knights.”
Salford Red Devils supporters can purchase tickets for Friday’s decisive match from the AJ Bell Stadium Ticket Office, or over the phone on 0161 786 1570.