Ahead of the pair’s meeting on Friday night, Castleford Tigers half-back Gareth O’Brien has reminisced fondly on his time with Salford Red Devils.
O’Brien is etched into Super League and Salford history, kicking the winning drop goal in the 2016 Million Pound Game. Unforgettable, that dramatic one-pointer in golden-point extra time against Hull KR kept the Red Devils in the top flight.
The 30-year-old left in 2018 to join Canadian outfit Toronto Wolfpack. He racked up 352 points in the Greater Manchester outfit’s colours.
Inch-Perfect with the Boot
“I was under Ian Watson at the time, and it was a great two and a half years there,” O’Brien said.
“Being part of that Million Pound Game squad – and the finish to that game – was something I’ll never forget.
“You make friends for life when you bounce from club to club. It was a really enjoyable time in my career, and I still keep in touch with some fans there now, so I’m looking forward to getting back to the AJ Bell [Stadium].
“I’ve obviously played against them a fair few times since leaving, and they’ve always been supportive of me. Off the field, I always get the odd message from them wishing me luck when I’m playing other opposition. I probably won’t get that this week!”
Somewhat of a drop goal specialist, O’Brien has kicked a one-pointer over the sticks 16 times throughout his career.
One of those came in last season’s Challenge Cup quarter-final against former employers Salford as Cas. In this week’s meeting, O’Brien will face up against Marc Sneyd, another veteran with the boot.
The Tigers man joked, “It’s definitely the battle of the drop goals!
“Hopefully it’s not as close and it doesn’t have to come to that. Marc’s a great kicker of the ball so if it is close and one-pointers are needed, then we’ll definitely have to try and snuff him out.
“It’s a massive test for us. Salford are similar to Hull KR this year, a very good attacking team. They put up a good performance against Leeds [Rhinos] and are coming into it off the back of a good win, so we’ll have to look at their threats.
“We’ll prepare well like we have been doing in the last few weeks and be strong in defence. I think it’s going to be a good game.”
Friday evening’s game is live on Sky Sports, kicking off at 8PM. Paul Rowley’s Salford head in ninth while Lee Radford’s Tigers sit sixth.