Karl Harrison will almost certainly win coach of the year in 2007 if he guides Salford to a better finish than last season. The City Reds defied all pre-season predictions with a series of consistent performances that resulted in their maiden playoff appearance. The question is, can they do it again?
Andrew Dunemann has been replaced by Luke Dorn, who will certainly add even more pace to the side, and his partnership with Luke Robinson is one to look forward to, and one that is set to terrorise defences all season. But like all half backs, the two Lukes will need a strong pack to play behind.
That’s where Michael Korkidas comes in. He forms a potentially crushing partnership with Andy Coley and with Malcolm Alker in the middle, the Reds have the groundwork to lay the platform for their backs. And if Simon Finnigan can recapture his early season form of 2006 that should have earnt him a Great Britain call up, there is no reason to suggest why Harrison can’t work his magic again.
But the standard of Super League has taken yet another step up from 2006. With Wigan back in the equation, and the lower Super League teams such as Huddersfield and Catalans making further improvements, Salford will have to step up another gear to ensure a playoff place this time round.
If they can turn The Willows in to a fortress then that should be enough to secure a top 6 place. And as with last season, a good early season start is crucial. Harrison has spent the last few years putting together a team who play for each other and for the shirt, and it has enhanced his reputation no end.
But can he inspire the same group of players, with a few new faces, to the playoffs for a second season running?
Prediction: 7th – victims of the Wigan revival.