Salford Red Devils coach Ian Watson has confirmed that new signings Luke Burgess and Feleti Mateo will both feature in this weekend’s Qualifiers opener against Huddersfield.
Mateo only arrived in the country a few days ago, but trained with his team-mates for the first time on Wednesday. Burgess has been here slightly longer, but Watson confirmed that both of them will play as they look to start the Qualifiers with a bang in the weekend’s only all-Super League tie in the ‘middle eight’.
“We’ve had our first session with Feleti today; Luke has been in with us for a few days and he’s fitted in really well and they’ll both come into contention for the weekend.
“They’ve shown good signs in training so we’re hopeful they’ll be ok. We’ve had a long turnaround so we’ve had a few extra days to play with and we’ve got time before we play Huddersfield.”
Watson admits that it is a hugely significant game, but played down any talk of the loser being under pressure after just one round of the competition.
He said: “It’s a big game and it’s important to get off to a good start and get the confidence flowing. Huddersfield will be a tough challenge but every time will be in these Qualifiers – we just want to get underway now.
“I don’t think so,” he said when asked about being under pressure if they lose. “There’s a lot of games to be played and five guaranteed you to be in that top three last year. Everyone might panic after one loss but pressure is what you make of it. We’ve been competitive in every game and we’re aiming to take that mentality into this part of the season.”
Five wins secured Salford’s place in Super League last year – but Watson admitted he’s genuinely unsure what the magic number will be this year, saying the Championship teams to pose a bigger threat to Super League sides.
“It’s interesting because we’ve looked at it, weighing things up with our analysis team,” he said.
“We’ve looked at how many wins get you in and even we’re unsure and what gets you clear of the Million Pound Game.
“I expect the Championship teams to be stronger; Leigh are a Super League team with the players they’ve recruited through the season and they’ll be interesting, because they’re playing a different way to what they did last year.”