I think it’s fair to say that Salford have never really set Super League alight when they’ve been involved, save for their 2006 season when they made the playoffs for the first and only time. Their last season in the top flight was a poor one indeed, with their relegation confirmed long before the end of the season. However, the last time Salford were relegated it served them some good by allowing them to build up some momentum in the lower leagues, and they look to have done the same thing again with their victory in National League One last season.
Whilst the Reds now have to build themselves up from the bottom again, they do have some things going in their favour. Shaun McRae is a coach with a successful track record in Super League and he will be looking to take the Reds to another level. They still have some crafty veterans like Robbie Paul and Willie Talau on their roster, complimented by some very talented youngsters in Richard Myler and Jordan Turner. Both of these two looked very impressive during the Reds’ NL1 campaign (Myler looked good enough to reach the England train-on squad for the World Cup) and will be looking to hit the ground running in Super League.
Of course, there’s a world of difference between looking good in NL1 and looking good in Super League, and the key to their success this year is whether the players who were so successful last season can make the adjustment in standard and intensity required. They haven’t recruited as extensively as teams who get promoted usually do (although the players they have brought in are of a decent quality) and the jump up in standard could prove to be a shock to the system at first. If they can adjust, then the Reds should be fairly competitive.
For Salford this season a successful campaign would involve reasserting themselves as a Super League mainstay. I think they’ll be competitive for the most part but they’ll probably have to endure some rocky patches as well. Of course if they get lucky they might scrape into the playoffs, but there’s a logjam of teams trying to sneak their way into the bottom of the eight and I think Salford’s priorities should involve re-establishing a firm footing in Super League before aiming too high too early. With the licencing system now in place, I think they can take their time in letting Myler and Turner get used to the rigours of Super League.