Season Preview: Salford Red Devils
After impressing in the league and cup in 2019 & 2020 respectively, the Red Devils find themselves navigating through a period of transition. Many of their experienced stars have since departed, leaving the club to rebuild its squad and recreate their identity in the process.
Less will be expected from Salford in 2022 after a disappointing campaign last year, resulting in an eleventh placed finish which saw them win just seven of their 22 Betfred Super League games. It was a short-lived tenure for Richard Marshall – the former St Helens assistant inherited a makeshift Red Devils squad and struggled to get any real consistency from his side.
Nevertheless, the grit and never say die attitude instilled in recent Salford squads had been extinguished and will be something that the clubs existing cohort of players must reignite this year. The Red Devils had a busy off-season and have recruited well - Marc Sneyd and Brodie Croft headline an impressive list of signings alongside life-long Salford fan Ryan Brierley. With Paul Rowley at the helm and the promise of an exciting, effort-driven brand of rugby, there’s reason for renewed optimism at the Red Devils in 2022.
Ins & Outs
Shane Wright (North Queensland Cowboys), Brodie Croft (Brisbane Broncos), Ryan Brierley (Leigh Centurions), King Vuniyayawa (Leeds Rhinos), Amir Bourouh (Wigan Warriors), Sitaleki Akaoula (Warrington Wolves), Deon Cross (Widnes Vikings), Marc Sneyd (Hull FC), Tim Lafai (Parramatta Eels).
Pauli Pauli (York City Knights), Kevin Brown (retired), Dec Patton (Bradford Bulls), Tui Lolohea (Huddersfield Giants), Lee Mossop (retired), Seb Ikahihifo (Huddersfield Giants, loan return), Ed Chamberlain (Leigh Centurions), Oliver Roberts (Huddersfield Giants, loan return), Krisnan Inu (Lezignan), Ata Hingano (Leigh Centurions).
Ones to watch
The Red Devils acquisition of Brodie Croft could prove to be one of the best pieces of business from any club in 2022. Still only 24, Croft has played over 60 times in NRL - including a Grand Final appearance in 2018 - and came through the elite Melbourne Storm system. Despite leaving the Storm and experiencing a tough couple of seasons at Brisbane, there’s no doubt Croft has talent. And importantly, he wants to get better. The experience, organisation and nuance of Marc Sneyd should compliment Croft perfectly - affording the Australian a free rein to play expansive, off-the-cuff rugby. If the pair hit it off, we could witness a devastating new halves partnership in 2022.
Salford winger Ken Sio had a season to remember last year - he topped the Super League try scoring charts and earned a place in the 2021 Super League Dream Team. Sio’s 19 try haul was no easy feat - especially given the Red Devils scored the third fewest points in the competition last season. And Sio isn't just a try scorer, he finished the year with the third highest metres made across the league and is a devastating ball runner in space. With extra artillery in the Red Devils back line in 2022, expect Sio to be even more potent on the edge this season.
Former Warrior Amir Bourouh will be ready to seize a new opportunity at Salford after a short stint at Championship side Halifax. Bourouh failed to earn a regular spot in the Warriors side after making his Super League debut in 2019 - the young hooker was given limited opportunities behind the experienced Sam Powell and joined the Panthers on a season long loan in 2021. After impressing in the Championship last season, Bourouh has been duly rewarded with a move back to Super League with Salford. The live wire hooker will be desperate to stake his claim for a place in the Red Devils side and provides invaluable depth in a position which lacked just that at Salford last year.
Salford have a challenging 15 days in April when they face last seasons top four in four consecutive matches. It begins with a trip to the Halliwell Jones to kick off the Easter period – the Red Devils facing Warrington Wolves in Rivals Round on Thursday 14 April, before welcoming League Leaders Catalans Dragons to the AJ Bell just 4 days later on Easter Monday.
Six days later, a trip to Wigan beckons to face the Warriors live on Channel 4 - the fourth of 10 Super League matches Channel 4 will broadcast in 2022. The Red Devils defining run concludes with a trip to the home of the champions five days later when they face the Saints under the Friday Night lights at Totally Wicked Stadium. The Red Devils resolve will be tested to the extreme during an unforgiving period.
1. Ryan Brierley, 2. Ken Sio, 3. Kallum Watkins, 4. Tim Lafai, 5. Joe Burgess, 6. Brodie Croft, 7. Marc Sneyd, 8. Sitaleki Akauola, 9. Andy Ackers, 10. Greg Burke, 11. Shane Wright, 12. James Greenwood, 13. Elijah Taylor, 14. Danny Addy, 15. King Vuniyayawa, 16. Ryan Lannon, 17. Harvey Livett, 18. Chris Atkin, 19. Jack Ormondroyd, 20. Jack Wells, 21. Josh Johnson, 22. Rhys Williams, 23. Dan Sarginson, 24. Matt Costello, 25. Morgan Escare, 26. Sam Luckley, 27. Amir Bourouh, 28. Deon Cross.