Ian Watson and Tim Sheens have already had a number of discussions about Salford’s recruitment policy for 2017.
Like plenty of years before, Salford saw a lot of players come and go in 2016. Four stars went to Leigh, Ben Jones-Bishop moved to Wakefield and Theo Fages went to St Helens and others moved on too. In contrast, Gareth O’Brien, Mark Flanagan, Justin Carney, Robert Lui, Ben Murdoch-Masila and Craig Kopczak were notable arrivals at the AJ Bell Stadium, and they have all have proved to be astute additions.
After big changes in playing personnel recently, the Red Devils aren’t expected to be as prominent in the market this season, with Watson and Sheens ready to make subtle tweaks to their playing roster.
Here is our report on what Salford fans can expect from their club ahead of 2017.
Where do they need to strengthen?
Ian Watson admitted following the club’s defeat to St Helens earlier this month that the Red Devils need to strengthen their pack.
“Everyone has always said we’re a little bit light up front,” Watson told League Express two weeks ago. “The guys that have come in there have done really well, but there’ll be areas that we look at and identify.”
It’s hard to argue with Watson, who has seen his forwards out-muscled down in numerous games this season.
Elsewhere, the Red Devils have good competition out wide and look strong in the halves with Michael Dobson, Robert Lui and Gareth O’Brien free to move in if required.
Another area Watson may look to strengthen is at hooker. Although Logan Tomkins and Phil Joseph are great distributors of the ball, they have lacked speed around the ruck without Tommy Lee.
But there’s little doubting that the pack is Salford’s biggest concern going into 2017.
One man that has recently been linked with a switch to the Red Devils is Kriss Brining, York’s free-scoring hooker, who reportedly turned down Featherstone Rovers earlier this year, is expected to join the club soon.
Halifax forward Adam Tangata is another man allegedly on the club’s radar. The Cook Island international was a reported target of the Red Devils last year after impressing in Salford’s victory over Fax in last year’s Qualifiers but signed a new deal with Halifax instead. Tangata has been the Championship side’s best player this year with a string of superb performances, recently earning praise from Widnes coach Denis Betts after the Vikings defeated Halifax in the Challenge Cup.
But unquestionably, the biggest name linked with the Red Devils ahead of 2017 is Cronulla and Austalia stalwart Paul Gallen. The experienced forward has said for a number of years that he would like to have a stint in Super League, and with Marwan Koukash keen to utilise the Marquee Player Rule and Watson wanting new forwards, Salford could very well make their biggest ever signing.
Who do they need to keep?
There are a number of players out of contract at the end of the season, but two that the club are desperate to keep hold of are Josh Griffin and Tommy Lee. Salford’s key duo are allowed to speak to other clubs with their contracts expiring at the end of the season, and it’s likely that both of them will attract attention from various Super League clubs. While there has been no speculation surrounding Griffin as of yet, hooker Lee has been linked with a move to Leigh Centurions in the past.