Watson eager to get going in pre-season with Salford

Salford Red Devils coach Ian Watson has said he can’t wait to start the club’s pre-season schedule on Sunday – and he has defended his decision to play his strongest team right from the start of the warm-up games the club have planned.

Salford travel to Rochdale on Sunday in their first pre-season fixture, and Watson has named a strong squad for that game, with almost all his big hitters set to feature.

And the Red Devils coach told TotalRL that following a successful warm-weather training camp in Spain earlier this month, his squad are raring to go.

“We all can’t wait, me especially,” he said.

“Pre-season has been great so far but ultimately, this is what really matters – when you get around to playing the games and working out where you are as a team.

“We’ll have a good idea after Sunday what we need to fix up, and we’ll definitely be heading in the right direction. Hopefully we’ll get some decent weather on Sunday to start to get some minutes into our legs.”

Some clubs have opted to use pre-season thus far as an opportunity to blood youngsters, keeping more senior players in reserve ahead of the season getting underway next month.

Watson, however, has gone for a different method – and he insisted that he can see the benefits of playing all his big guns from the get-go.

“I’m a big believer in getting consistency and continuity into your players,” he said.

“Of course we want to develop some of our younger players in the squad, but some guys need game-time more than others. Each individual is different and we’ll manage them accordingly but in my eyes, it’s vital we get some consistency into our team ahead of Super League starting good and proper.”

Kris Welham, Lee Mossop and Kris Brining are among the players expected to make their debuts for the club on Sunday afternoon at Spotland.

Salford squad to face Rochdale: O’Brien, Carney, Sa’u, Evalds, Johnson, Lui, Dobson, Mossop, Brining, Griffin, Hauraki, Murdoch-Masila, Jones, Welham, Bibby, Wood, Wilkinson, Tasi, A.Walne, J.Walne, Murray, Lannon.