New Salford Red Devils head coach Paul Rowley is determined to “raise standards” and he believes the club needs a clearer direction.
Former Leigh Centurions and Toronto Wolfpack coach Rowley, 46, was confirmed last week as the replacement for Richard Marshall at the AJ Bell Stadium, moving into the hot seat from his previous role as Salford’s head of rugby.
He has signed a two-year contract with the option to extend further, and will be assisted by Kurt Haggerty, who moves from Leigh, and Danny Orr, who remains in his post.
Rowley has set out his priorities and vision for the Red Devils, with a focus on both providing leadership and finding leadership within his squad.
“First and foremost, I’d like to raise standards,” he said.
“That will be visible to people on and off the field in the way that we go about our business. And (I’d like) to gain some credibility as a team, that we’re not an easy team to play against.
“The key components of rugby are run hard and tackle hard, and we’ll make sure we’re an enthusiastic group of players that are tight and as a club we’re tight.
“I take a lot from what Steve McNamara did at Catalans, what Richard Agar did at Leeds. I do feel there’s a little bit of rebuild (needed) not from the bottom, but some tinkering that can make a big difference.
“Tony Smith at Hull KR as well, you can point in that direction. They’re inspirational for me. I’m going to be guided and motivated by the successful direction they’ve taken their respective clubs.”
Having observed from a distance in his previous role, Rowley identifies a lack of clear direction and planning as a reason why Salford have slipped from Grand Finalists to finishing second-bottom of Super League inside two years.
Speaking about recruitment, Rowley said: “It’s about the pieces of the jigsaw fitting the picture that you want to create. Do the pieces fit? Not really. But we’ll have to adapt the picture that we want to create to suit the players we have.
“That process will take a little bit longer, that’s the progression and the succession planning for next year and the year after.
“That’s not been forthcoming since I’ve been at the club. I’ve always made clear that succession planning has not been one of its strong points.”
The biggest issue, Rowley believes, has been a dearth of leadership from the playing squad.
“There’s a lot of experience that has retired or moved on that does need replacing or finding from within,” he said, adding that the next club captain had “yet to show himself to me”.
The first step towards addressing that has come with the signing of Marc Sneyd, with the halfback returning to the club from Hull FC on a three-year deal.
Rowley admitted that he had initiated the move for Sneyd and that Hull had cooperated with Sneyd’s desire to return to live near his family in Oldham.
However, Rowley has warned that the double Lance Todd Trophy winner might be the only signing he is able to make before the season gets underway, with squad-building a longer-term project.
“In terms of recruitment, I haven’t got anything to spend now,” he said.
“I’ve been handed a team, which I’m comfortable with.
“If I can squeeze one more out then I will, but I’m not sure if I can. I’ve been handed the squad and Marc Sneyd might prove to be my only signing.”
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