It’s not been a bad old week for Salford, has it?
The first team to beat Castleford this season last Sunday, the Red Devils followed that good news up with even more during the week. Ben Murdoch-Masila is sticking around; Junior Sa’u is following suit. So is Lama Tasi. And Weller Hauraki.
But the biggest signing of all? That might just be the man at the helm: coach Ian Watson, who has agreed terms to a new three-year deal with his hometown club. The Watson era which is so highly-regarded and tipped for big things continues on Friday when Salford travel to Widnes.
It’s a game that, despite potentially being able to hoist the Devils into the top four by the end of the weekend, Watson is quick to point out the importance of as they strive for more.
“If you’re doing a school report of us so far it’ll say ‘could have been better’,” Watson tells Total RL.
“There’s certain points of games we’ve just let slip and it’s that improvement and that desire to be better all the time which should kick us on now. We’ve got to back up that Castleford result otherwise it’s absolutely pointless. We can’t and won’t be that team who wins one and loses one.”
On paper, Salford are heavy favourites against a Widnes side depleted of troops and perhaps even confidence, given how they are still one of two winless sides in Super League this season. Yet Watson is not taking them lightly.
“I’ve watched all their games so far and they’ve been in them all,” Watson reflects.
“It’s not through lack of effort or trying why they’ve been coming up short – they’ve got some key personnel missing although I don’t want us to worry about that. We’ve got to take care of ourselves and snap this inconsistency.”
That Watson’s side can finish this weekend in the play-off places is indication enough of how far Salford have come under his stewardship: but just how much further can they go over the next three years?
“It’s up to us to build all the time – but we never look further than the week in front of us,” he cautiously insists.
“We’ll have the focus to make sure we’re learning all the time but if we can build like we are, hopefully we can be a bit of a force. We want to crack that status quo of the top four where it’s the same teams who win competitions and get to finals.
“Look at Castleford; they’ve started well and it’s taken them some time to get there. It’s a process, it’s something every team wants to do and it’s something we’re putting together at Salford.”
If you had suggested Castleford would be among the favourites to win Super League a few years ago, you would have been laughed out of the room. Whether Salford follow in the Tigers’ footsteps remain to be seen, but with Watson in charge, one thing is for certain: the rugby Salford produce over the coming years certainly won’t be dull.