Big teams will cherry pick Salford’s best players, admits Ian Watson

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Ian Watson says he would love Rob Lui to stay at Salford, but admitted the club won’t always be able to compete with the budgets of other teams.

Reports emerged earlier this week that Lui will join Hull Kingston Rovers when his contract expires with the Red Devils at the end of the season.

Watson would love nothing more than to keep Lui beyond this year, but admitted it could be difficult.

Speaking after their 28-16 win over Leeds, Watson said: “We have had the Rob Lui speculation a lot. He is a great player, a great family bloke and he is really proud to play at Salford.

“We would love to keep Rob. We knew this was coming at some point, we are a community club and we don’t want to lose any of the players that we have got now. For me, this team is better than the 2017 team we had, so we would love to keep this team and build on that.

“We’ve done well to attract them guys in the first place and we want to keep them. We don’t want to lose people like Rob Lui but there are a lot of guys off-contract this year and some of the big teams will be cherry picking them.

“Rugby is a short career and the players have got to be happy with the decisions they make. They have got to make decisions for the right reasons and I know Rob will make the right decision for him and his family, which is the number one key for him.”

A crowd of 3,368 saw the low budget Red Devils beat the big spending Rhinos at the AJ Bell Stadium on Friday night.

And Watson urged Salford supporters to rally the troops as they hope to retain their star assets.

He added: “We’d love to keep Rob, Jacko [Jackson Hastings], George Griffin, Derrell Olpherts and Jake Bibby, but it comes down to finances with a club like ourselves.

“I know there has been interest in Derrell Olpherts, and we picked him up from League 1 when nobody wanted him but now there is a lot of interest in him and how he has developed over the last couple of years.

“I suppose it is up to the board to back our vision and to bring more sponsorship but on the flip side, it all depends on the numbers we get coming in through the gates.

“If you look at Leeds and the amount of people they get coming through the gates and Hull KR as well, they have got big numbers coming through. Every team has got bigger crowd numbers than what we’ve got, so we need to build a strategy so we can keep these kind of players.

“We don’t have any benefactors, we don’t have the largest support base. We have a loud support base and they do really well for us but I’d love for us to be getting 7,000 every single week so we can build on this team because we could be a top team.”