It’s great for the game that Salford Red Devils are at a first Super League Grand Final – and I hope we’re hammering down the throats of everyone this week just how good it is to have them at Old Trafford on Saturday.
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It’s a club that not so long ago was in a lot of turmoil financially and making the headlines for the wrong reasons.
To now be where they are, I think it’s a fantastic story for the game. It’s also a fantastic story for all those other clubs that have never made a Grand Final and maybe it will open people’s eyes a little bit to how it can be done.
We should be promoting the hell out of this game. History shows there’s been a dominance of three or four teams making – and winning – Grand Finals since the first one in 1998.
It’s great to now see another name involved at the big night and it’d be superb to see another new one on the winner’s sheet.
I’m hoping for a great game against St Helens, first and foremost – but there’s a little bit inside me that’s hoping for a Salford victory.
They were great beating Wigan in the semi on Friday. Probably on the way they have played recently and given the chance, considering the dominance of Saints against Wigan the week before, Salford will have fancied it. Also, considering how well coached they are, Ian Watson will probably have highlighted – if he had not already – a few weaknesses to exploit.
Their energy in defence is what is so impressive; to a man, they were fighting for each other knowing what was at stake.
Everybody will have read the comments before from Phil Clarke saying how they were like Championship players and I’m sure that will have given them another little lift
But, in saying that, I spoke to Mark Flanagan after the game to congratulate him and he openly admitted himself that when he first signed for Salford he didn’t think that playing in Grand Finals was on his radar.
So to have the season they have had is just reward for them,
He’s been around a while has Mark now, played at a few clubs – we were together at Wests Tigers – and Saints was one of them; he won a Grand Final with them in 2014, the last time they won it.
I’m sure he’ll be hoping he can get one over them.
A few weeks ago, if you’d have said Salford were going to get there, you might have feared it would be a little one-sided against Saints.
But I think given their performances – and the energy shown – particularly over the last few weeks especially in defence there’s that little bit of hope.
Don’t get me wrong Saints go in heavy favourites particularly given how well they played last week against Wigan.
There’s no questions over how well they are playing. But I’m sure the Challenge Cup final defeat will be looming over them with how poorly they played at Wembley. They don’t want a repeat of that but they have to rise to the occasion again.