Round 1 of the 2019 Super League season continues as Salford visit Huddersfield. Here’s everything you need to know about Friday’s game.
TEAM FORM GUIDE
Despite a turbulent close season which saw the likes of Jake Mamo and Danny Brough leave the club, Huddersfield dominated in most of their pre-season friendlies; most notably scoring half a century against local rivals Bradford Bulls in early January.
Salford Red Devils
Salford also impressed in their preparations for the 2019 season, triumphing 52-6 over Swinton Lions in their penultimate friendly. The Red Devils did, however, lose 18-28 at home to Wigan Warriors nearly a fortnight ago.
In a case of deja vu of last year, injuries have hit the Giants hard for the season opener as Head Coach Simon Woolford can only name 18 players in the preliminary squad for the visit of Salford.
Akuila Uate is in line to make his full debut for the Giants, but star man and winger Jermaine McGillvary is out until March with a troublesome hamstring injury.
Huddersfield 19-man squad:
1. Darnell McIntosh, 4. Jordan Turner, 5. Akuila Uate, 6. Lee Gaskell, 7. Matt Frawley, 9. Kruise Leeming, 10. Suaia Matagi, 11. Aaron Murphy, 12. Alex Mellor, 13. Michael Lawrence, 14. Adam O’Brien, 15. Oliver Roberts, 17. Ukuma Ta’ai, 19. Matty English, 21. Scott Grix, 26. Sebastine Ikahihifo, 27. Adam Walne, 32. Innes Senior, 35. Joe Wardle.
Salford Red Devils
Having missed the end of the 2018 campaign, Logan Tomkins returns to Salford’s 19-man squad for the trip to West Yorkshire.
Kris Welham also returns to the side after being absent from the friendly loss to Wigan, while the Red Devils could give debuts to new signings Ken Sio and Gil Dudson.
Salford 19-man squad:
1. Niall Evalds, 3. Kris Welham, 4. Junior Sa’u, 5. Jake Bibby, 6. Robert Lui, 8. Lee Mossop, 10 Gil Dudson, 11. Josh Jones, 12. George Griffin, 13. Mark Flanagan, 14. Darcy Lussick, 16. Greg Burke, 17. Tyrone McCarthy, 18. Ben Nakubuwai, 19. Logan Tomkins, 22. Derrell Olpherts, 23. Ken Sio, 25. Jansin Turgut, 31. Jackson Hastings.
HEAD TO HEAD
The history between the two sides is quite remarkable, with the club playing at home only emerging victorious in one of the last eight meetings. The Giants won the last encounter 16-24 when on the road back in May, but Salford have won the last four matches at the John Smith’s Stadium.
In the last eight duels between the two clubs, Salford hold all the cards; scoring more points, 186 to Huddersfield’s 162, tries, 32 to the Giants’ 26 and Friday night’s visitors have also kicked more goals, 29 to the hosts’ 24.
Darnell McIntosh (Huddersfield) vs Joey Lussick (Salford)
Capable of playing as full back or on the wing, McIntosh was one of the Giants’ standout players towards the back end of an eventually productive 2018. His direct running and desire to defend the line will serve as a crucial factor in his side’s performance on Friday night. With the absence of Jermaine McGillvary until spring, McIntosh will have to be on top form.
As for Salford, Joey Lussick was a vital member of the squad in their successful Qualifiers campaign last year and, as the club returns to Super League, Red Devils fans will look to him as the man to spearhead them to a fifth-consecutive win at Huddersfield.
THE IMPORTANT DETAILS
Date: Friday 1st February
Venue: John Smith’s Stadium
Referee: Liam Moore
WHO WILL WIN?
Both squads have been hit by injuries and, coupled with their terrible form against Salford on home soil, this should make Giants fans worried about Friday’s outcome. However, I believe that the hosts have enough quality in the starting thirteen to get the win to kick-start their season in a positive manner. I’m going for a 24-12 scoreline in favour of the Giants.