Salford Red Devils are pleased to unveil two new appointments at the helm of the club’s reserve team setup, which will be relaunched for the 2020 campaign.
Salford Red Devils Foundation staff Danny Barton & John Blackburn will take on the roles of Head of Youth & Reserve Team Head Coach and Team Manager respectively.
Barton is himself a graduate of the Salford setup and is now head coach of the club’s development academy, while Blackburn was instrumental in the formation of the club’s academy in 1996 and organisation of apprenticeship tours to the Southern Hemisphere.
Salford Red Devils director of rugby and operations Ian Blease said: “We’re really pleased to have Danny and John onboard with our reserves setup.
“Their detailed understanding of our current structures, history and the local community makes them perfectly qualified to identify talent and channel it through to the elite level.
“Both myself and Coach Watson are passionate about the development of players from this area and are keen for the club’s reserves setup to experience continued and sustainable growth, producing an efficient production line of talent in year’s to come.
“The appointments of Danny and John will help us pool our existing resources with the foundation, to ensure a clear pathway is created, presenting local players with a route to aspire towards once again.”
Current Salford Red Devils first team squad members Niall Evalds, Ryan Lannon and Josh Johnson came through the ranks at the club and this new setup will look to create a platform for more players to follow them.
Barton said: “The formation of the reserves setup completes the pathway for kids to fulfil their dream of making it to the first team.
“It also provides an environment for first team players themselves, to make their return from injury or maintain match fitness, so It works for everyone involved.
“The kids in the academy have been excited about the prospect of the reserves, ever since they heard it was going to happen.
“There’s a couple of kids there who could’ve played this year and there’s a couple more who might come on in the next few months, so the opportunity’s there, as long as they’re working hard and fitting in with the ethos of the club.”
He added: “It’s really important we get out there in the local community and tighten those links up too.
“We want to have Salford lads playing in Super League for the club and if they’ve got the ability, then I know the first team coaching staff will give them the opportunity.”
Barton progressed through the ranks at Salford as a player while Blackburn was operating as a coach and team manager with the academy and now the two are colleagues through the foundation.
Blackburn said: “I’m really pleased to be back involved with the performance side.
“This is my passion and I’ve known Danny for a long time, so want to support him.
“He’s got strong links in the community game and extending the pathway on offer will only help strengthen the rest of our player development through the foundation.”
Supporters can contribute towards the Salford Red Devils 2020 squad by joining Squad Builder.