AS he listens to the constant hyperbole about Salford Red Devils’ all-star line-up, you could forgive Danny Kirmond for perhaps thinking he may have made a mistake.
Wakefield Trinity Wildcats’ highly-respected captain had the chance to join Marwan Koukash’s revolution last August when the West Yorkshire club’s financial crisis was apparent to all.
Salford had already had an offer for Wakefield’s gifted Australian scrum-half Tim Smith accepted but Trinity knocked back a “substantial” bid for Kirmond, the player insisting he wanted to stay faithful to a club that had helped resurrect his career.
Since then, however, he has seen several colleagues depart, including Paul Aiton (Leeds Rhinos), Kyle Amor (St Helens), Justin Poore and Ben Cockayne (Hull Kingston Rovers) plus, earlier this week, Lee Smith (Newcastle Falcons).
Wakefield, inevitably, start their new season against Brian Noble’s side of galacticos tomorrow, which brings the inevitable question: is Kirmond glad he made that choice?
“When it was happening, it was really frustrating,” the second-row explained to the Yorkshire Post.
“I’d be lying if I said I didn’t think what the future might hold for me elsewhere.
“But, after speaking to (coach) Rich (Agar) and (chairman) Michael (Carter) and what plans they had for the club, I felt pretty confident Rich could do a good job bringing the right people together to give it a shot.
“When I came to Wakefield (in 2011) I’d not been playing many games at Huddersfield and there wasn’t much interest in me.
“But Rich showed loyalty in me, gave me a chance here and then the captaincy, too, last year.
“I thought it was a bit of a challenge to show loyalty back to Rich and the club, also, for getting my career back on track.
“As captain, I didn’t want to be the one leaving and leaving the rest in the lurch.
“I’m glad I stayed. Was I tempted at the time? Maybe a little bit, but I feel I made the right decision now and want to show that this season.”
Wakefield, who saw three of their NRL recruits arrive in the country only on Sunday due to visa problems, are, of course, rated big outsiders to cause a shock against Tim Smith, Rangi Chase, Gaz Hock, Adrian Morley et al.
But Kirmond, 28, insisted: “It’s similar to a couple of years ago when we played Widnes in the first game and there was a lot of hype around them.
“We got the win that night and it’s really important we focus on our own game at Salford.
“There is a lot of hype around them. They are creating a lot of press for the game which is good for the sport. It will be tough but we’re confident in our ability.”
Flamboyant Koukash has stated he wants to see Salford, who finished bottom last year, in the top four come September.
Kirmond, below, whose brilliant Trinity form earned him a place in last season’s Super League Dream team, said: “Obviously, that is a really ambitious target, but given the owner has spent that amount of money he is going to be ambitious.
“It’s difficult when you’re bringing a lot of players together at once. But, being a part of something similar here at Wakefield in the past, I know if you get the right mentality and the right atmosphere in that group then the playing side is second nature.
“There are a lot of characters in that Salford squad – I’ve played with a few of them – so it’ll be interesting to see how they go, but we’ll be in good shape whatever.”
One of them, of course, is Tim Smith, the classy half-back who undoubtedly helped Kirmond find the best form of his own career at Belle Vue.
“He was really good for me while at Wakefield,” admitted the ex-Featherstone Rovers player.
“I really enjoyed playing with Timmy and he’s probably one of the smartest half-backs I’ve had the privilege to ever play with.
“It’ll be interesting going up against him and he’s got a good partner in Rangi Chase, who is not a bad player as well.
“If they can gel, it will be a really good partnership so I think we’re probably playing them at the best time given this is their first Super League match together.”
Trinity could maybe have done without ex-Leeds centre Lee Smith’s late departure to Newcastle.
But Kirmond said: “If someone does want to leave there isn’t really much you can do to stop them.
“We’re not hiding from the fact we know this year is going to be tough so we need people who want to be here.
“Good luck to Lee trying his hand at union again. All the players wish him well and he’s been good for us while he’s been here.
“But we’ve got some replacements in Luke Briscoe and Jimmy Keinhorst who are itching for a chance.”