TIM SHEENS will not need a coaching dossier on former club Salford Red Devils when he makes his Super League return with Hull KR tonight.
That’s because the Australian was responsible for recruiting most of the Salford players, in his role as director of rugby, at the AJ Bell Stadium.
They are a resilient group of blokes, I was involved in the recruitment of them, so I know. They are at home and I am under no illusion this is going to be a very tough game for us.Hull KR boss, Tim Sheens
He infamously agreed to join Rovers from Salford in 2017, only for the Robins to lose out in the £1m Game relegation decider.
That meant Sheens spent his first season in charge plotting Hull KR’s path out of the Championship.
The clubs did meet in last season’s Challenge Cup – Salford coming out on top 24-14 in May – but tonight will be Sheens’s first return as a Super League coach after promotion last season.
“For two years now they (Salford) have been a top-eight side, even though they fell away at the back end of last year,” said the Robins coach.
“They are a resilient group of blokes, I was involved in the recruitment of them, so I know.
“They are at home and I am under no illusion this is going to be a very tough game for us.
“I am not personally familiar with the English guys, but had 12 months with them and know what a set of guys they are, their ability.
“That’s something I respect. They had a lot of ups and downs as a club, but at the end of the day their team there is a very strong group of boys.
“They will play for each other, don’t worry about that.”
Salford, one of only two clubs still without a win, lost their opening two games against Wigan Warriors (40-12) and Wakefield Trinity (14-12).
But Sheens, who upset Salford by making an audacious bid for stand-off Robert Lui on the eve of the season, is expecting a tough contest.
“Salford are a good team, look at their names and the games they have played,” said the 67-year-old.
“I think against Wigan they were unlucky. Wigan got away with a couple of freakish things, that you would try 10 times again and get one result.
“And I thought they came back at Wakefield really strongly. It’s a tough venue, Wakey, who are a side who beat us at our place.
“I don’t think their form is bad, they have had a week off.
“They are a good side, we are a good side, so it’s going to be a tough game.
“The conditions will be cold, and could be wet, so this time of year you need to keep it simple.
“It’s slippery ground, the kicking game is very important, and hanging onto simple ball in collision.
“It has to be fundamental football at this time of year.
“The crowd might want to see us throw the ball around, but you can’t throw it around for probably another eight weeks before you get dry-weather football.”
Rovers are without former Leeds Rhinos half-back Danny McGuire after he aggravated a rib injury in the win over Catalans.
“He’s struggling to train let alone play so we’ll sit him out for at least a week,” former Australia coach Sheens said.
But Rovers are boosted tonight by the return of former Leeds and Wakefield forward Nick Scruton, following shoulder surgery.
“Scruton wasn’t 100 per cent in that London trial but since then he’s had a good three or four weeks to improve that shoulder,” Sheens said.
“He went through a very aggressive week on that shoulder and we’re comfortable he’s ready.
“I’m extremely happy with my forwards who have filled in for Scruton. Certainly Danny Tickle came in to help too last week.
“You can’t go without experience and it’s OK saying throw young lads in – but Robbie Mulhern is more than a young man now and he’s getting close to the period where he’s starting to play his best footy. We have got a good experienced group but so have Salford. They all know each other so it’ll be a tough game in the middle.”