Salford winger Francis Meli says Brian Noble is ‘very disappointed’ to have been replaced by Iestyn Harris as Red Devils head coach, and claims the former Great Britain boss still means a lot to the squad.
Despite being only seven games into the season, Red Devils owner Dr Marwan Koukash took to Twitter last week to announce that Wigan assistant Harris was to take over at the AJ Bell stadium, with Noble offered a role as Director of Football. Salford currently sit ninth in the Super League ladder with three wins.
“I think Brian is very disappointed about it,” said Meli, who has 14 caps for New Zealand.
“It’s early in the year for change, just seven games in, but that’s just the way the game is and we can’t do much. It’s happened and we just have to get on with it now. Brian knows he’s still a big part of the boys and still means a lot to us.”
Meli admitted his side’s start to the season could have been better, but believes they just need to be given time to gel.
“The start of the season hasn’t exactly gone to plan but I think everybody is settling well and trying to get things rolling,” he said.
“When I was at St Helens, we had six or seven years playing together, at Salford it’s all different personnel and it’s a job of trying to gel together. I think that’s the main thing, the biggest thing.
“We’re not far off it, I think. Once we hit May, June I think we will be firing on all cylinders. It’s just a matter of time.”
Rumours of Koukash’s plans to replace Noble had been circulating last week, but a gutsy win against Hull FC in the Challenge Cup looked to have eased the pressure on the 53-year-old. Meli played a huge part in that victory, bagging a hat-trick of tries, including the one that forced golden point extra time, allowing Rangi Chase to land the winning field-goal. Was that the Samoan’s best performance in a Salford shirt?
“Yes, probably to date,” he said.
“Especially being in a Challenge Cup match. It was one of those games, too – we were two tries in front early on and it ended up being two tries behind trying to chase the game to stay in it.”
Meli spent seven seasons at St Helens before joining Salford, winning the Challenge Cup three times.
“I know what it takes to get there and it’s one of those things where you don’t get a second chance at it,” he said.
“It’s the little things in the game that everybody needs to get right and you’ve got to want it. It’s important for us in general to win but like I said in the Challenge Cup you don’t get a second chance at it.
“It’s a big deal back home, I think people know more about the Challenge Cup than they do about Super League. It’s something that has been around for a long time and they used to show it on TV, I think everyone remembers the Challenge Cup as a big occasion, and the fact it’s a knock-out competition draws people in.”