Salford may have defied all expectations by finishing third in the regular Super League – but it will count for nothing if they don’t beat Castleford and move a step closer to a Grand Final.
The Red Devils lost away at Wigan last week and set up a clash with Castleford for a place in the Preliminary Final and coach Ian Watson is determined his players take that chance.
Just 12 months ago Salford finished second from bottom and eventually stayed up after another arduous battle through the Qualifiers.
A year on and it is a different story and the Salford have eyes on a bigger prize and a five-mile trip down the road to Old Trafford – the home of a team that share their nickname.
And Watson is keen for his players to have no regrets at the end of game.
He said: “Regardless of what happens against Castleford this has been a successful season, but we will be disappointed if we do not win.
“It does not come round very often that you get the opportunity to be 80 minutes away from a major semi-final.
“We need to put our best performance out there but it will be a good season when you look back on it, but if we lose then we will be disappointed with what we have thrown away.
“This game is huge in the history of the club. If we win then it puts us within 80 minutes of the Grand Final, so for that reason it is probably the biggest game in Salford’s history in a long time.
“To make it to a Grand Final would be massive for us, especially with the amount of adversity we have faced over the years.
“It would be massive for the backroom team, we have a small backroom team but they are very close nit and it would also be big for the people who work behind the scenes in the office as well.”
Salford were 100-1 outsiders to win the title at the start of the season and went on an eight-game winning run to finish the season strongly in third.
An 18-12 defeat by Wigan last Friday pushed them down a longer path to the final – but Watson believes that despite the result his players came away with a lot of confidence and that it could end up being a positive.
He added: “I think it could be a good thing that we were beaten by Wigan last week. I hope it is the final kick that gives the players the belief in each other and the belief in the team that we can go to Wigan, St Helens and Castleford and beat them.
“So hopefully the performance has given us more confidence.
“But the focus is on Castleford and we are ready – the Wigan game showed that.
“This is a massive opportunity for us. And it is up to us to grab it with both hands and give us a shot at playing in a major semi-final.”
The Betfred Super League Grand Final is the biggest night in Super League and takes place at Old Trafford, the iconic home of Manchester United on Saturday 12 October (6pm KO). Secure your seat by visiting https://www.superleague.co.uk/tickets/grand-final