A fascinating insight into why Paul Rowley is Salford’s biggest strength

Drew Darbyshire
Paul Rowley Salford Red Devils SWpix

Photo: Paul Currie/SWpix

Salford appointing Paul Rowley to be head coach is the best decision the Red Devils have made in a long time. He is their biggest strength right now.

That’s according to full-back Ryan Brierley, who is a player who knows Rowley more than most. The pair worked together at Leigh, Toronto and now Salford.

Rowley enjoyed an impressive first season as Salford head coach, guiding the Red Devils to the Super League semi-finals.

In an exclusive interview with Love Rugby League, Brierley has given an in depth insight in to what makes Rowley such a good coach.

“I think Paul Rowley is the most correct decision that this club made and will make for a long time,” Brierley said.

“I’ve been in teams where the coach has just been the manager, picks the team and that’s it. But Rowls is in every training session, he’s holding tackle bags and he’s in it. He’s doing the session with us because he wants players to get better.

“Brodie (Croft), who is the best player in the league, gets hammered the most out of anyone. Rowls is onto him everyday: your catch and pass is off, you’re not squaring up, or you’re not running. He hammers him every single day but it shows it works because of how much he gets out of him.

“Rowls’ best quality is that he maximises the best out of every single player. Whatever that potential is, he’ll make sure you hit it.

“The club’s biggest strength is Paul Rowley by far. The biggest worry we’ve got is losing him to a massive club or the England job potentially so that’s our biggest fear and worry really.”

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Paul Rowley looking after his players on and off the field

Brierley says Rowley always goes to the extra length for his players off the field as well as on it.

This time last year Tim Lafai was playing part-time rugby league in Australia as well as working as a bricklayer. But Rowley took a gamble on Lafai, and it paid off.

Lafai made the Super League Dream Team last season before going on to help his beloved Samoa reach their first-ever Rugby League World Cup final.

Brierley continued: “Rowls has given Tim Lafai a chance, hammers him on the training ground to get better and improve on certain things.

“And then after training he is driving to Tim Lafai’s house to sort a plumbing issue in his flat to try to look after him.

“He moved Tim out of his flat and into a different house. I know plenty of coaches that would’ve said ‘it’s nothing to do with me that, sort yourself out’. But Rowls can put an arm around you one minute, then hammer you the next. It’s a skill I know he’s always had but when you see the big dogs come over they react well to it. If you spent a day in our company, you’d see we are just a group of idiots loving life.”

Trusting the process

Rowley is building a squad of players he has full faith in at the AJ Bell Stadium. He has recruited Adam Sidlow and Andrew Dixon ahead of this season, players who he has worked with before.

“The likes of Sidlow and Dixon, they are players Rowls trusts because he knows what he’s getting out of them,” Brierley told Love Rugby League.

“Our biggest signing would be Ollie Partington I’d say this year. But that’s a player he knows has come through a tough Wigan system and has been coached right and knows he’s going to do his job.

“His other recruitment is people he trusts and who he knows will play the style he wants to play. He’s very trustworthy. If you are one of the players he trusts, then you are quite important in his system.”

Salford get their Super League campaign underway at Rowley’s former club Leigh at February 17.

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