Salford have chosen the right coach

Garry Schofield believes Richard Marshall is a good choice for Salford

Well done to chief executive Ian Blease and Salford on a great choice of successor to Ian Watson as head coach.
I’d like to wish Richard Marshall all the best as he steps out of the shadows at St Helens to take charge of the Red Devils.

He certainly deserves this great opportunity.

It’s good to see a Super League club avoid the temptation of turning to Australia and instead putting faith in a young up-and-coming British coach.

I said recently that I could have seen Luke Robinson ending up at Salford, but he’s staying at Huddersfield to be right-hand man to Watson.

We’ll see how that works out, because as I’ve also written, it can be tricky for a coach when your assistant has made it clear that they wanted the job you now have.

Going back to Salford, I think Richard is a great fit.

He’s certainly served his apprenticeship.

I saw quite a bit of Halifax when he was at the helm there. He did a good job on a tight budget, promoting young talent and producing sides that played entertaining rugby and regularly punched above their weight, which are all things he’ll be aiming to repeat at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Three top-four finishes in four years with Fax is an impressive record for the old CV, and remember it was a part-time squad, so time on the training field was limited.

Since then he has been involved with two Grand Final-winning sides at Saints and worked under two very experienced coaches in Justin Holbrook and Kristian Woolf.

Knowing what Richard is like, while he will have been strong enough to put his own stamp on Saints, he will also have listened and learned from the people he worked with, as well as making some useful contacts.

Now he can strike out on his own at the top level, at a club that has achieved great things in recent times and is ambitious to keep progressing under Ian Blease’s go-ahead leadership.

He has a tough act to follow, because realistically, he’d have to win the Grand Final or Challenge Cup to better Watson.

But the departing coach has left things in a much better state than they were in when he arrived, and Richard is brave enough to take on the challenge, be his own man and try to squeeze that bit extra out of the resources he has at his disposal.

Man-management is a big part of it, and he has experience of dealing with a variety of players, from those who turn up at training after a day’s work to some of the game’s biggest names, and getting through to them all.

I think the Salford lads will enjoy both training and the brand of rugby that Richard will get them playing. It’s going to be interesting watching how things develop, and while Salford supporters will obviously be disappointed that Watson has left, they can be encouraged by the reaction of the club to a situation that was sure to arise sooner or later.

I hope they will be patient and give Richard time, because he can certainly do a job there.

He’s already made a start on adding to the squad by bringing in England winger Joe Burgess from Wigan, a very decent signing.

And I’ve read that he wants to sort out a new contract for Krisnan Inu, who has provided great service since moving from Widnes and of course made this year’s Dream Team.

Salford also have Morgan Escaré, Dan Sarginson, Ken Sio, Kallum Watkins and Rhys Williams on the books, which is not a bad selection of backs by any means.

If the forwards and halves can do their part, then the tries should flow.

Meanwhile, ex-Salford player Josh Jones is being linked with Huddersfield, where he would be reunited with his old coach Watson.

I’ve speculated on the success or otherwise of his move to Hull a few times this year, and he just doesn’t seem settled on Humberside.

He’s not played many times for the Black and Whites, in sharp contrast to the previous season at Salford, when he was such a key man in the run to the Grand Final.

It certainly wouldn’t be a surprise if Hull cut their losses and let him go, thereby freeing up some space to allow their new coach Brett Hodgson to bring in fresh faces.

Kevin’s amazing effort

What a phenomenal effort by Kevin Sinfield to run seven marathons in seven days to raise funds for the MND Association in recognition of Rob Burrow.

And what a phenomenal response by the public to pledge so much money.

I’m sure some of those who have contributed aren’t Rugby League fans, but have learned all about Rob’s bravery and the support of his many friends thanks to all the publicity projects like Kevin’s have generated.

It was great to hear Will Greenwood give Kevin a plug, and great to see the old union-league rivalry put to one side to back a cause which affects not just both codes, but the whole of the public, because like all diseases and illnesses, MND can affect anyone, anywhere.

Elstone’s disappearing act

Talking of communication and spreading the word, I know he has a crucial new TV deal to sort out, but Robert Elstone has been worryingly quiet since the Grand Final.

I can’t help thinking we’ve missed a big opportunity by failing to cash in on the positive publicity created by that amazing finish to the big match ten days ago.

Straight after the game, plenty of people outside the sport, such as boxer Tony Bellew, were talking about the dramatic finale and Jack Welsby’s winning try.

Surely the Super League chief executive should have been popping up on TV and radio programmes pushing the competition and telling the nation what a great product he is in charge of.

The word is that the new deal will be with Sky, but that they won’t be paying as much, and if that turns out to be the case, it would be very disappointing.

If you can’t seal a decent deal on the back of a Grand Final like the one we just witnessed, especially given the effort put in by clubs and players to get the season to that stage, then something is wrong.

Lam under pressure

Adrian Lam is staying at Wigan, for the time being at least.

I thought it was very telling that his new contract as head coach is only for one year.

We often talk about the need for stability at clubs, but this is two parties hedging their bets.

If a job in the NRL comes up, whether head coach somewhere or as an assistant at one of the top clubs, I suspect Adrian will be on his way.

And if Wigan don’t win a trophy next season, they can make a change without too much cost.

Yes, they won the League Leaders’ Shield and pushed St Helens all the way in the Grand Final.

But the fans want to see some silverware being lifted – and given the players he has at his disposal, with Jackson Hastings re-signing and John Bateman re-joining, Adrian is under real pressure to deliver, not just come close.

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