Salford Red Devils look to be finally producing the performances that make their owner’s bold statement of a top-four-finish in pre season seem less outlandish.
Of course, winning the last two outings cannot and will not make up for what has been an incredibly disappointing season.
Indeed, many of the players have failed to live up to expectations.
One Red Devil who can most certainly be immune from criticism, though, is underrated back-rower Matty Ashurst.
The 24-year-old may not be a superstar name like Kevin Locke or Rangi Chase, but he is the type of player every supporter appreciates; he runs hard, makes plenty of tackles and leaves nothing out on the field.
Additionally, he has a knack of scoring tries and is arguably the Red Devils’ most consistent performer.
I sat down with him earlier this week and discussed his Salford career and future.
On the Red Devils’ recent form
“It has been good to finally be putting in the performances we know we are capable of. We started of the season slow – there was so many new faces and infrastructures it was naturally going to take some time to gel. To be honest the pressure on the team to deliver wasn’t something that I found difficult. The early season performances and results of course weren’t good enough but it wasn’t for lack of trying.”
On the team’s spirit
“There is a sense of togetherness and we all firmly believe the top eight isn’t beyond our reach. Iestyn [coach Harris] has been a great appointment we are setting out our stall. We pride ourselves on having a good reputation, being aggressive and smart with the ball, working for each other, backing up and focusing on each game individually.”
On his Salford journey
“Personally I have been through many ups and downs since I joined the club. I have always just gone out there to do my best. The facilities and set up we have been afforded is a million miles away from when I first joined, but that that is no disrespect to our previous owner.”
On playing with Adrian Morley
“Being able to play alongside a legend such as Adrian Morley is a huge honour for me, he is a natural leader and fantastic bloke both on and off the field. As a team, and no doubt as a club, we would love to see him stay on for another season. His performances this season go to show he is still one of the best around, but only Adrian can make that decision.”
On Castleford heartbreak
“The Castleford game showed how far we have come in terms of improvement and defensive ability, it was heartbreaking to lose the match in the final thirty seconds and we still have much improving to do.”
On his and the club’s future
“I haven’t thought beyond this season if I am honest. I love it here, the supporters have always been fantastic with me, I just want to concentrate on performing and giving it my hundred percent commitment. I am sure my contract will take care of itself. With quality players such as Kevin Locke, Mason Caton-Brown, and Josh Griffin coming in it has been great for both the supporters and the squad. And when you add to that the 2015 capture of Ben Jones-Bishop and Michael Dobson I believe Salford will finally be competing at the right end of the table.”