Watson asks his players to emulate class of ’19

Ian Watson has called on his new-look group to live by the principles that got Salford’s class of 2019 to the Grand Final.

Not for the first time, Watson is working with a much-changed squad at Salford, with twelve new players in his squad after last year’s unexpected run to Old Trafford.

With key players like Josh Jones and Jackson Hastings moving on, Salford are something of an unknown quantity heading into 2020, but Watson believes they can repeat last year’s success if the current squad buy into the values the team demonstrated last year.

“That’s the big challenge for us as a group,” Watson said.

“We’re a new group with twelve new players. The challenge is living up to what we did last year, but doing it as our group. Some of the stuff we’ve seen we’re happy with.

“I’m excited by the group we’ve got. We had a big focus last year and built as we went along. The systems and foundations were what we worked on and the squad bought into them.

“We’ve spoken about the exact same thing to the playing group this year.

“Ultimately, it depends on what they want. We work massively on the players and the individuals and working to their strengths, but they need to want to do that too.

“If people have expectations of us, then that’s great. We have them too. We want to compete at the top end and everyone is going to say the exact same thing. At the same time, if people want to go back and say Salford will be down at the bottom, then that’s fine too, and we’ll try and prove them wrong.”

Salford winger Rhys Williams, who signed for the Red Devils from London Broncos during the close-season, scored two tries on Saturday in Salford’s 40-14 defeat of Leigh Centurions, making it three tries in two pre-season games so far.

Meanwhile the Red Devils sent three players to the Valencia Huracanes for their game against Featherstone Rovers in Spain on Saturday.

After recently signing professional contracts with the club, Luis Roberts and Connor Aspey were joined by Salford Red Devils Foundation community coach and development Academy graduate Sam Bardsley, who currently plays at senior level for local club Folly Lane.

Salford Red Devils director of rugby and operations Ian Blease said: “This forms an important part of our developing relationship with the growing Rugby League community in Valencia.

“It’s our responsibility as Betfred Super League Grand Finalists in 2019, to harness our influence for the benefit of the sport as a whole.

“The presence of our talented youngsters, alongside reserve team head coach Danny Barton, will allow them to act as ambassadors, in addition to furthering their own development.”

The Salford stars were unable to secure victory for the Huracanes, however, who went down 102-14 to their visitors.