Salford Red Devils fullback Niall Evalds has been selected for the England Knights squad ahead of their two-game series against Papua New Guinea.
Evalds finished the year as Salford Red Devils’ top try-scorer for the second consecutive season racking up an impressive 13 tries.
England Knights Head Coach Paul Anderson has called the 25-year-old fullback up in place of Wigan – and former Salford loanee – Oliver Gildart who has moved into the England side for the Autumn internationals against France and New Zealand.
Gildart moves into the England squad in place of an injured Sam Burgess while Warrington’s Tom Lineham has moved into the England Knights squad as a replacement for Castleford’s Greg Minikin who has withdrawn through injury.
Luke Gale has also pulled out of the England squad with a knee injury and a replacement will be named early next week before the one-off Test against France at Leigh Sports Village.
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The Red Devils Super 8s home opener against league leaders Castleford Tigers will see the two most free-scoring teams in the Super League this season go head-to-head.
Daryl Powell’s side currently top the try-scoring charts with a huge 134 tries while Salford have crossed for 104 tries – level 2nd with Wigan Warriors.
Castleford wingers Greg Eden and Greg Minikin have scored 50 of the sides 134 tries in the league this season with half-back Luke Gale also being in double figures.
The Red Devils tries have been distributed a little more evenly with second-rower Ben Murdoch-Masila, who grabbed two the last time Salford hosted Castleford, the club’s top try-scorer this season with 13.
Full-back Niall Evalds took his tally up to 12 for the season with his spectacular effort at Hull FC last Friday while Greg Johnson, Junior Sa’u and Kris Welham are all one try away from hitting double figures for the season.
Welham, who has also enjoyed spells with Hull KR and Bradford, is still in search of his 100th career try. The 30-year-old centre notched a try on the Red Devils visit to the Mend-A-Hose Jungle this season and will be looking to cross again to climb into treble figures.
While Gale is central to everything Castleford produce going forward he trails teammate Michael Shenton in terms of try assists. The England half-back has racked up 18 try assists however Shenton has set-up 19 tries in the Super League this season.
However, both men are surpassed by Salford half-back Robert Lui who has notched up an impressive 21 Super League try assists and trails only George Williams, who has 25, overall.
The Red Devils have won three of the last five meetings between the sides in all competitions however Castleford do have the edge in Super League winning 25 of the 36 meetings since 1996.
Tickets are still available for Friday night’s game against Castleford over the phone, at the club’s ticket office or online via the club’s website. Supporters are reminded that season tickets are valid for all Super 8s home games.
Ahead of this Friday’s Super 8s home opener against runaway league leaders Castleford Tigers we look at their previous visit to the AJ Bell Stadium this season.
The Tigers made a dominant start to the 2017 Super League season winning all their four opening games with victories over Leigh, Warrington, Leeds and Widnes.
As for Salford, it had been a mixed bag of results in the opening weeks of the season. Victories over Huddersfield and Warrington were between narrow losses against Wigan, Leeds and Wakefield.
However, the Red Devils managed to upset the odds by coming from behind to pull off a memorable victory which has fuelled Salford’s most successful season in recent memory.
Luke Gale put the visitors ahead as he capitalised on a spilt kick to cross under the sticks. But, Red Devils powerhouse Ben Murdoch-Masila forced his way but a missed conversion meant the Tigers led going into the break.
Another error from Ian Watson’s side allowed Greg Minikin to scoop up the ball and score but again Murdoch-Masila came to the aid of the Red Devils bundling over the Castleford line and taking four Tigers defenders with him. Gareth O’Brien’s conversion closed the deficit to two points.
O’Brien was on target again a few minutes later as he successfully converted a penalty from in front of the posts to level the scores.
And, in similar fashion to 2016’s Million Pound Game, O’Brien would be the hero as he slotted a drop-goal in closing stages to seal a 13-12 victory for the Red Devils.
The victory over Castleford would begin a five-game winning streak for the Red Devils which saw them climb the Super League table.
Ian Watson will be hoping for a similar result on Friday night that will again lead to Salford hitting form at this crucial stage of the season.
Salford team that day: O’Brien, J. Carney, Sa’u, Welham, Johnson; Lui, Dobson; Mossop, Tomkins, A. Walne, Griffin, Murdoch-Masila, Flanagan. Subs: Kopczak, Krasniqi, Brining, T.Carney.
Fans can still buy tickets for Friday’s game against Castleford over the phone, by visiting the club’s ticket office or online via the club’s website. Supporters are reminded that season tickets are valid for all Super 8s home games.