‘Legitimate challengers’ – Sky Sports pundit makes Salford Red Devils admission

Aaron Bower

Sky Sports pundit Jon Wells believes Salford Red Devils are ‘legitimate challengers’ to the elite clubs in Super League – and believes they are being done a disservice given the progress they have made under Paul Rowley.

Salford are once again challenging at the top end of Super League under Rowley, and having been labelled outsiders and a surprise package for several years, Wells believes it is now time to pay the Red Devils proper respect.

He referred to them as ‘disruptors’ in 2023 but now offered a much higher praise of Salford and their possible chances of going all the way to the Grand Final this season.

“For years now we have characterised every seasonal iteration of the Red Devils as made up of those players other teams had passed on,” Wells told Love Rugby League. “This is partly true due to their financial constraints; they cannot buy big and buy early because they cannot compete on salaries with the wealthier clubs.

“But what others have perceived as a weakness they have made their strength. The players clearly enjoy one another’s company, they are very well coached, and they are a club that have an uncanny knack of finding round pegs for round holes.”

Wells also insisted that Salford have been harshly treated by the press, continuing: “I think the media have done them a disservice, and whilst I labelled them as ‘disruptors’ in 2023 – an organisation that would knock other teams off course and take big scalps along the way, without troubling the Grand Final ticket offices – I am tempted to push a little further this season.

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“I would call them legitimate challengers in 2024 to the established elite. Now, a lot can happen in the remaining half of the season, and clearly an injury to a player like Marc Sneyd would be disastrous for them, but I admire and respect what they are doing at the moment.

“Just as expectations for Hull FC need to be re-callibrated by all for the next two years, the same can be said for Salford.”

Wells also offered a detailed breakdown of Catalans Dragons’ fortunes this year. Steve McNamara’s side have drifted away from the leading pack in 2024 and Wells has questioned whether or not they will be in a position to compete this time around.

“They have won 7 from 9 at home – which for any other team would be considered a great return,” he said. “For Catalans, not so much.

“Look, any team on their day in Super League can beat any other – but I would argue that playing the Dragons away from home is the hardest fixture in the league calendar, because of the quality of the Dragons of course, but also because of the logistics involved and the unaccustomed away travel.

“Add to that some really poor away form from Catalans in 2024 – 2 wins from 6 matches in England, which feels like a step backwards this season from where they were in the last two years – with an attack that has yet to find its ruthless feet, and I do start to wonder whether we will see them in a semi final in September.”

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