Ian Watson admits Salford have gone for quality over quantity this year

James Messenger

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Salford coach Ian Watson admitted his squad is smaller than he would like, but insists the Red Devils have more of a well-rounded team compared to last season.

The Red Devils had recruited smartly in the off-season by bringing in the likes of Gil Dudson and Ken Sio, while the former Manly Sea Eales duo of Jackson Hastings and Joey Lussick have signed permanently after arriving prior to last season’s Qualifiers campaign.

Despite having just 25 players in their first-team ranks, Salford have won two of their opening three games this season and currently sit fourth in the table.

Watson acknowledged their lack of depth in key areas but is adamant the quality of the side will still shine through.

He said: “We’re probably a little bit short in a couple of areas and we’d like to boost our squad if we can, but obviously finances dictate that.

“Either way, we’re really confident in the group’s ability.”

A number of the Salford squad have been at the club for over two years, with Niall Evalds in his seventh season at the club and Jake Bibby entering his fourth season in red and white.

Watson believes having a good nucleus to the squad is essential for them to grow, adding that good teams can’t just be produced overnight.

“It takes time to build a team; people think you can just buy a team and throw it straight out there but it’s about building a team and building relationships,” Watson said.

“Over the last few years, we have brought in people like Mark Flanagan and Lee Mossop. We’ve had to be really smart and try and get competitors in and it takes you time to do that.

“We don’t just do it over one year, it takes three or four years and proof will be shown down the line. If you look at Castleford and how long they’ve taken to build a team, they’re nearly there but Daryl [Powell] will tell you he’s still building his team as well.”