On the pitch, it’s been a fairly miserable season for the Salford Red Devils. A campaign that started off with so much cause for optimism, as the start of the “Red Deviloution” has seen the club slip down into lower table obscurity, and any hopes of a play-off place lay in tatters.
Despite recruiting a number of big names and established Super League stars such as Rangi Chase, Gareth Hock and Junior Sau, the Salford club have failed to live up to high expectations of controversial owner Marwan Koukash, and if not for the financial difficulties of Bradford and London, may have found themselves in a relegation dog-fight.
Maverick Koukash has been outspoken right from the very start of his ownership of the club, and has been clear in his vision to make Salford “the biggest club in the land”. The controversial axing of head coach Brian Noble and appointment of Warrington and Wales legend Iesyten Harris was a clear indicator that he wants to establish the Devils at the top as quickly as possible, but was not enough to arrest the slide in Salfords poor season.
However despite a woefully underwhelming season, Salford fans do have good reason for optimism going forwards. The signing of New Zealand full-back Kevin Locke represents the best import into Super League for a long time, and highlights the ambition of the club, as well as the size of Koukash’s cheque-book.
Locke was a standout player at the World Cup, and has undeniable pedigree, which he displayed on his Salford debut, producing a haul of 16 point in Salford’s much needed 36-10 win away to the Huddersfield Giants. Locke wasn’t the only debutant to shine in that performance. Salford recently acquired London youngster Mason Caton-Brown, who looked electric on debut, scoring a superb solo try.
The acquisition of these two players, along with the signing of Australian Half-Back Michael Dobson from 2015, and current Half-Back Rangi Chase, contributes to a back-line, that on paper looks good enough to mount a serious play-off challenge next term.
There is of course, still hope for Salford that if they can use the win against the Giants as a platform, they build a run of form that could see them sneak into the top eight and claim a play-off place, however for this to happen, the margin for error is now minimal for the Devils. But this season aside, Devils fans can now look forwards to the future with genuine cause for optimism. Salford have signed Locke in his peak years, and the already impressive Caton-Brown should only improve as he works along-side players of genuine quality.
All in all, the last couple of weeks have Salford a much needed reason to be excited about the future after a so far difficult campaign for the club.