Salford coach Paul Rowley has transformed the club by making changes to the culture, by insisting they walk a bit taller and making sure everyone is accountable for their actions.
The former Leigh and Toronto has guided the Red Devils to the Super League semi-finals in his first season in charge.
Despite having one of the smallest playing budgets in the game, Salford reached the Grand Final (2019) and Challenge Cup final (2020) under then coach Ian Watson.
However, they went into a slump after Watson left to join Huddersfield. They finished second-bottom in Super League last season before Rowley took the reins.
“I wanted to make an immediate impact and get rid of the fluff,” Rowley told Love Rugby League.
“The lads will tell you it’s a different place. I just thought the place needed a black and white approach and an air of clarity from top to bottom.
“I wanted for us to walk a little bit taller and a bit prouder. We’ve talked ourselves down for far too many years. As long as I’ve been here we’ve crept into rooms and not walked tall into rooms. That’s not what I’m about.
“It was important that we had a common objective, believed in it and had team spirit within the culture of the club. There was clarity from top to bottom, whether that be right or wrong, but there was clarity and we could be accountable.
“What I will say about this group is that they all hold themselves accountable.
“There is a lot of empowerment in the group”
“The culture was set by us and driven by them but to do that you need good characters and professionals, and we are very fortunate that we’ve got them. Three of them are in the Dream Team (Brodie Croft, Tim Lafai & Ken Sio), so we’ve got people who drive the standards and want to be better. These really are a bunch of good mates playing in a good team.”
Paul Rowley: We’ve got a group who care for each other
Rowley insists his side are just a big bunch of mates who love playing alongside each other that have the added pleasure of doing it as their full-time job.
The Red Devils find themselves just 80 minutes away from the Super League Grand Final at Old Trafford. They travel to champions St Helens on Saturday in the semi-finals.
“There’s nobody fluffing their pillows or polishing their boots, they are very down to earth,” Rowley added.
“They tidy up after themselves, they are humble, they understand that we are just a bunch of mates who are playing rugby.
“We don’t accept mediocrity, our standards are high and we want to learn, improve and get better. Everybody is really driven individually and we bring that together as a collective. I’d like to think every week we have learnt something and got better.
“It’s been about the journey, we have improved and we’ve over delivered to this point but we don’t want the journey to end because we’ve got a spring in our step and we are fresh physically and mentally. We’ve got an almighty task but we’re ready to go.”
Salford recognised in the Dream Team
The Red Devils have had three representatives – Brodie Croft, Tim Lafai and Ken Sio – named in this year’s Super League Dream Team.
“The Dream Team is absolutely star-studded so to have three representatives in it is great,” Rowley said in an exclusive chat with Love Rugby League.
“I would say they don’t get their without their team-mates and they will be the first to sing that tune. However, what I will say is their team-mates and the staff and the people of Salford will be extremely proud of their achievement.
“To be up there in that line-up is a massive accolade for them personally and for the Salford club as well so we’re extremely proud of them.”