Salford star calls for play-off extension

Oliver Roberts has called on Super League to implement an extended play-off structure after being forced to play a game with broken ribs.

The Salford forward played for the Red Devils in their victory over St Helens last Monday, despite having an injury that should have seen him anywhere but on the field.

It was the club’s seventh match in 28 days, a schedule that had left them without 17 fit players.

As a result, the Ireland international put his hand up to play.

“It was disgusting to be fair, but it’s my job,” he said.

“We were short on men. The previous week I didn’t think I’d performed well and didn’t rate myself, so I owed it to the boys, myself and Watto (coach Ian Watson) to do ten minutes to give someone else a breather.

“Watto didn’t want me to play but I wanted to play for myself and the boys. I was basically a breather for Pauli and Tyke (Tyrone McCarthy).

Before the game I had four injections just to try numb the ribs up, but that didn’t work. I tried to keep myself out of tackles, but I was going mad with Chris Atkin because he kept trying to make me carry.

“I was laughing with Paul Rowley. He was watching from upstairs and he has spotted that we were about to bust their left side at any time and he was shouting to get me off the field because we needed someone who could strike. Then as soon as he said it, I did and made half a break, popped it to Tui and then I got a whack in the ribs. To get another whack in them was a shocker.”

Salford were then forced to forfeit their game with Warrington as injuries left them with 13 fit players for what would have been their eighth game in 32 days against a Warrington side that had a 17-day rest leading into the game.

“Nobody wants to forfeit a game and we were devastated. I didn’t like how Warrington got our game at 24-0 and then beat Huddersfield, so they get two wins in one night; I couldn’t get my head around that. But everyone was broken and I think they did the right thing to look after the boys, so credit to Bleasy (Ian Blease) and Watto.

Super League are due to discuss the schedule for the final month of the season and Roberts said: “I’d prefer them to end it now.

“Some teams are playing for nothing; well, you don’t know, will it be top 6, 8 or 4? Super League are having the talks, we are classed as essential workers with elite sport, but everything has gone into lockdown, it’s just a bit of a mess everywhere.

“They need to get it done and dusted or you’ll end up pushing next year back even further or you’re rolling straight into next year and then a World Cup; so where does it end?”

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