FIT-AGAIN Hull KR hooker Shaun Lunt believes Salford Red Devils’ off-field drama is only going to make them more dangerous in tomorrow’s vital game for the East Yorkshire club.
Rovers have crucially slipped to ninth following last Sunday’s defeat at Huddersfield Giants, their first loss in five matches.
With just two more regular games after this weekend’s round, it is essential they win at the AJ Bell Stadium to keep alive their hopes of escaping Super League’s bottom four.
They are currently level with eighth-placed Hull FC but their bitter rivals – who host Castleford Tigers tomorrow – have a superior points difference.
Eleventh-placed Salford know another defeat will end their already slim hopes of avoiding the Middle Eights themselves and they have been hit with huge speculation recently that the club is on the brink of financial meltdown.
Furthermore, head coach Iestyn Harris is absent “sick” amid rumours that he is set to leave but, under assistant Ian Watson’s guidance last week, they did secure only their second league win in 11 outings by edging past Catalans Dragons and, slightly bizarrely, Australia boss Tim Sheens this week arrived as their new director of rugby.
Lunt told The Yorkshire Post: “There does seem to be a lot going on there.
“But at the end of the day what goes on off the pitch doesn’t necessarily affect the boys on it.
“Sometimes it does them a favour as they all gel together and play better so you never know.
“They beat Catalans and it will be a tough game. It was a tough game at our joint last week (Rovers won 34-28 on June 30) so we’ll look forward to it.
“Every game has mattered from day one and this matters loads now doesn’t it?
“We’re going well in the Challenge Cup, having reached the semis, and we’re not far off the top eight so we’ll see how it goes.”
Rovers’ bid has been aided by the return to fitness of their former England international who made a sensational start after joining on loan from Huddersfield Giants in March but then missed nine games due to a problematic back issue.
He returned against Catalans Dragons in the Challenge Cup quarter-final and has now successfully negotiated the last three successive matches.
“It’s just good to be playing –that’s the main thing,” said Lunt.
“There’s no lonelier place than when you’re injured. Ask any player.
“They are all the same and all go through the same thing.
“Rugby’s what we love to do and get paid to do so it’s always good for your state of mind when you’re playing every week.
“I’m just glad to have got it sorted, get everything on the mend, be out there playing again and doing alright.”
Lunt, 28, hopes to have his future sorted “next week” with a number of clubs, including Rovers, believed to be interested in his services for 2016 once his Giants contract expires.
First, though, the player who won a Grand Final with Leeds Rhinos while on loan there in 2012, is intent on getting Rovers into the play-offs.
“Everyone wants to finish as high as possible and we’d love to get in that top eight,” he said.
“But, at the same time, we’re just concentrating week to week and not looking too far down the line.
“We can’t do anything on games beyond Salford.
“Last week at Huddersfield was our third game in 11 days but we can’t use that as an excuse.
“They are a good side who played better than us and Danny Brough’s kicking game was unbelievable.
“He kicked us around the park. That’s what won it for them at the end of the day, their defence was really good, too, and they played the conditions better as well.We’ve had a few days off since and need to get going again at Salford.”
The Robins are set to recall prop Adam Walker after he was left out of the side at Huddersfield while full-back Kieran Dixon, prop Jordan Cox and back rower James Donaldson are also back in the frame. Prop Tony Puletua cannot play against his parent club and fellow loanee Greg Burke is also left out.
Salford have Rangi Chase, Cory Paterson and Adrian Morley all back from injury for the first match under new boss Tim Sheens.