Salford Red Devils Media Day Highlights - Ian Watson, Chris Atkin and Jack Ormondroyd On Upcoming Season!
“That’s the big thing, the trip to Spain was more about off-field than on-field. It was about getting the players to interact with each other. When you’re away from home, you get to know each other as a person, rather than just a rugby player. That was the big thing for us, that we gel as a side”
The motto of the club throughout last year’s success was ‘Together Stronger’ and Ormondroyd has immediately felt a sense of family at his new club:
“They couldn’t have been more welcoming, it’s been brilliant from the start. I think being so close knit goes a long way, at Featherstone Rovers last year we were a really tight knit group and we did some really good things. I think that played a massive part in what we did last year and hopefully this year at Salford we can do the same”
The Red Devils have had an impressive pre-season so far, with two convincing wins over Swinton and Leigh. Chris Atkins feels the side is continuously building in confidence heading into their final warm-up game against fellow Super League side, Warrington Wolves:
“I think the performances might not seem as important in pre-season, but we still go out there and win. It’s about building through these friendlies and getting prepared for that round one game against St Helens, it’s massively important to hit the ground running on that first one. Going into Leigh was the gradual progression of intensity and commitment that Ian wanted. I think we showed that against Leigh, the desire to set those standards early”
The 26-year-old also gave his thoughts heading into the season opener against Grand Final winners, St Helens, and the importance of building momentum throughout the upcoming year:
“The goal is to go one step further than last season. If we can start the season with a win or at least, a top performance, then we can build on to peak at the right time. That’s what happened last year, they went really well into the back of the season and won the games when it mattered. Obviously, they came up short in the final but St Helens are a quality team and I’m sure they’ll be fighting for silverware at the end of the season, as hopefully we will be”
Embracing new talent is integral to the growth of any professional sports club and Ian Watson described the biggest thing he assesses when recruiting signings:
“The big thing for us is the people, we’re a small squad. To achieve things and winning things we need to be close knit and work well together. We focus on the character of the person, whether they will actually fit. We do massive research on them as a person first, before them as a player and that’s been really successful. I think this group is the best we’ve had in terms of character and we’ll hopefully transfer that to the field”
Watson’s history with the club runs deep as a Salfordian and a former player, but despite the magnitude of the heights of last season, the Red Devils coach never got carried away and made it clear that the focus was always on the task at hand:
“Once we got to the semi-final against Wigan and then the Grand Final, you could feel the expectation build in the local community. There were people contacting me from Australia that I knew from Eccles U11s team and they were coming across for the final! People were coming from all over the world to see Salford play in a final because they’d not been there for such a long time”
“You kind of miss little bits of it until you get right to the brink of it and then you see the effect it has on everyone else. Other than that, you’re quite oblivious because you’re in your own little bubble sometimes, that’s what we like to be in rather than focus on the outside noise”
We look forward to covering Salford’s Super League journey throughout the 2020 season, starting with their first home game against Toronto on February 8th Stay tuned!