Watson backs his pivots to thrive ahead of Wakefield clash

Salford head coach Ian Watson believes he has a wealth of riches to pick from in his spine, but admits it will take time for his team to get up to speed.

The injury to Manu Vatuvei has left much of the focus on the club’s lack of depth in the backline, with Watson keen to add new recruits to his side.

However, Watson boasts an array of qualities in his creative department. Despite losing Michael Dobson in the off-season, Watson was able to recruit Wests Tigers halfback Jack Littlejohn while Rob Lui, Gareth O’Brien and Niall Evalds are also among the Red Devils ranks.

O’Brien and Evalds were used in several positions during the defeat to Wigan, and ahead of their trip to Wakefield, Watson talked up his playmakers, but admitted they may need time to become fully up to speed with the side’s offensive structures.

“The interesting thing is that we have different types of player in the positions that will suit different types of teams,” he said.

“We have a talented spine, we have Gaz O’Brien who is very different than Niall coming out of the back, and then Gaz gives you different things to Rob Lui and Jack Littlejohn do as a halfback. We’ve got players who can play in those positions, it’s just matching them up and getting that consistency.

“We’ll have to get up to speed with our plays and who is playing off each other. The combinations will take a bit of time, but the luxury of a good quality spine is second to none really. It’s about giving them time.”

In many ways, Watson is striving for the consistency within Wakefield’s spine. Liam Finn and Jacob Miller have developed a strong partnership in the halves with Scott Grix and Kyle Wood seamlessly transitioning to life at Wakefield last year.

Watson praised Chris Chester’s side ahead of the match and talked up the challenges they will throw at his side.

“They’re consistently good at what they do,” Watson said.

“They’ve got a big, mobile pack with the likes of Fifita so we know our middles will have to step up. Down then edges they have speed as well which obviously we need to make sure we’re on the ball for.

“The big thing they’ve done really well is build a consistency in their spine with Finn and Miller. They’ve then added to that with Tyler Randell, Kyle Wood and Scott Grix. That’s where we’ve had that slight change in that spine. But we’re more than confident that those guys will get us competing at the top end of the table.”