Salford duo Ben Nakubuwai and Levy Nzoungou have a lot of potential, says Ian Watson

Drew Darbyshire

Salford Red Devils coach Ian Watson thinks forward pair Ben Nakubuwai and Levy Nzoungou have big futures in the game.

Nakubuwai, 21, joined Salford in the off-season from Gold Coast Titans, having made two appearances in the NRL last season. He also helped Fiji reach the semi-finals of the 2017 Rugby League World Cup.

And Watson admitted that the club were sweating on him playing for the Bati at the World Cup to make sure he met the criteria to sign for Salford.

He said: “I’d watched him before the World Cup but we were crossing our fingers that he played.

“He was a guy who had real potential but didn’t quite have enough games under his belt to qualify for the criteria. We needed him to play three games for Fiji so we were crossing our fingers that he played every group game and he ended up playing more than that anyway.

“He wants to be a genuine NRL starting player so for him to come over here to get the experience now of playing first-grade is great for us and great for him.

“Players over there don’t generally make their debuts until they are 23 years of age so with the opportunity he has got here, he could get 30 or so games under his belt before goes back there – if he wants to. He was the right guy to bring in for us – a young lad with a lot of potential and is hungry to be successful.”

Nzoungou, 20, arrived from Toulouse. He came through the ranks at St Helens before spending some time with Melbourne Storm. He had a fine end to the 2017 season with Olympique in the Championship.

The Frenchman has spent time on loan with Whitehaven this season and Watson also thinks Nzoungou could make a name for himself in Super League.

He added: “Levy is a big character, he is always bouncing around the place and he has been in the academy at St Helens so he has been over here before and his English is very good so there is no language barrier.

“He’s been over to Australia and Toulouse but physically, he has got everything. He has got the size and pace about him so we just need to educate him on rugby a little bit.

“He is another project player. Ben is probably a little bit ahead of Levy at this moment in time but Levy just needs to be educated in understanding the game a little bit more. He is another great young lad to come through for us.”