Niall Evalds reminded Salford coach of Darren Lockyer

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Salford coach Ian Watson thought Niall Evalds’ performance against Wigan on Saturday was one like the legend, Darren Lockyer.

The Red Devils fell short to a 28-18 defeat against the Warriors in a pre-season friendly at the AJ Bell Stadium on Sunday.

Evalds was one of Salford’s standout players, impressing Watson in both the full-back and half-back positions.

Speaking after the game, Watson said: “I thought Niall was outstanding,

“He was a little bit like Darren Lockyer out there, with him playing full-back and stand-off! He’s developed a lot over the last year and we are trying to cover all the positions.

“I thought Niall and Rob [Lui] linked up really well in the halves. We even had Greg Burke playing nine at one point, with Joey [Lussick] in the halves, so we’ve got options if we need to move people around which is important for us because we haven’t got the biggest squad.

“I more or less know my starting squad now. With our group, we’ve been able to build it how we want over the last couple of years in terms of the characters of our team and how we want to play.

“We’ve been able to recruit a little bit better this year and we’ve been able to bring in players who suit our style of play and do the things that we want them to do, so I definitely know our team.”

Calvin Wellington and Connor Davies-Aspey, who are currently on trial with the club, both featured for Watson’s side on Sunday.

Welsh centre Wellington pulled his hamstring in the game, while 16-year-old Davies-Aspey came on for the last five minutes.

On their chances of gaining first-team contracts, Watson commented: “We wanted to see a lot more of Calvin.

“He’s pulled his hamstring now, so hopefully we can see a bit more of him in training. The pair of them have held themselves really well.

“Connor has more developing to do. His progression will probably be looking to play at Championship or even League 1, if a Championship aren’t willing to take a shot at him. He just needs to develop.

“I had to be careful with him against Wigan. I could have been tempted to through him on but when you have got the likes of [Tony] Clubb, [Joe] Greenwood, [Ben] Flower and [Liam] Farrell who are physical and big specimens – to throw Connor in front of them straight away is a big ask so he needs to develop his path the right way.”

Jackson Hastings and Rob Lui both left the field with niggling injuries, but Watson confirmed they will both be fit and raring to go for the start of the season.

Ireland international Ed Chamberlain has suffered a syndesmosis injury though, and the worse-case scenario is that he could be out for up to 12 weeks. He will be assessed further in the coming days.

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