Rugby League World says
The off-season has hardly been kind to Salford Red Devils and this could ultimately be the club’s undoing in 2024.
Financial and stadium uncertainty continue to be big talking points, and then there was the bombshell news that last season’s prolific try scorer Ken Sio had left the club for personal reasons.
Added to the earlier departures of Brodie Croft and Andy Ackers, Salford have lost a lot of the flair and firepower that has seen them become great entertainers over the last couple of seasons.
New signings Nene Macdonald, Chris Hankinson, Cade Cust and Joe Mellor are far from like-for-like replacements for what they’ve lost so coach Paul Rowley will certainly have to change their style of play. They will add something to the side and help them pick up some crucial wins, but perhaps not enough of them to see the club mount a realistic challenge for the top six. Especially not if injuries hit an already light squad.
Three to watch
Ryan Brierley signed a new three-year deal during the off-season, in what was a rare piece of good news for Salford. Their squad has been decimated by key departures, particularly in the backline and creative department, putting more responsibility on their Scottish international fullback to continue his fine form of the past two seasons.
Cade Cust has been handed the unenviable task of replacing Brodie Croft, putting further pressure on a player facing a huge season. After disappointing at Wigan, being dropped from the team early last season, he has only signed a one-year deal with Salford and needs to impress to secure his future at the top level.
Ethan Ryan will have expected to be competing with Joe Burgess and Ken Sio for the wing spots when he left Hull KR to join the Red Devils. But both have since departed, making Ryan a shoe-in for a place in the team and placing additional pressure to rack up the tries – if he can get the service.
Did you know?
Salford couldn’t see the end of the 1964-65 season quickly enough! After losing in the first round of the Lancashire Cup and second round of the Challenge Cup, they finished 22nd in the 30-strong table – then declined the chance to play in the new Bottom 14 Trophy.
1 Ryan Brierley, 2 Ethan Ryan, 3 Nene Macdonald, 4 Tim Lafai, 5 Deon Cross, 6 Cade Cust, 7 Marc Sneyd, 8 Brad Singleton, 9 Amir Bourouh, 10 King Vuniyayawa, 11 Sam Stone, 12 Kallum Watkins, 13 Oli Partington, 14 Chris Atkin, 15 Shane Wright, 16 Joe Shorrocks, 17 Jack Ormondroyd, 18 Ben Hellewell, 19 Adam Sidlow, 20 Andrew Dixon, 21 Matty Foster, 22 Kai Morgan, 23 Chris Hankinson, 24 Joe Mellor.
Chris Atkin needs 20 appearances for 100 for the club…
Ryan Brierley needs 6 appearances for 300 in his career…
Ben Hellewell needs 3 tries for 100 in his career…
Marc Sneyd needs 16 appearances for 300 in Super League
RLW predicts: 10th
First published in Rugby League World magazine, Issue 492 (January 2024)