Salford Red Devils head coach Paul Rowley remained proud of his side despite narrowly missing out on a play-off spot, describing them as ‘outstanding’, and saying he’s already started planning for 2024.
The Red Devils enjoyed an impressive 2022, breaking into the top six and progressing all the way to the semi-finals where they were beaten by eventual champions St Helens, in Rowley’s first year in charge.
For parts of this year, it looked likely that they’d be involved past Round 27 oncemore. But after last week’s defeat at Hull KR they left themselves with too much to do, needing a win against Catalans Dragons and Warrington Wolves to lose at Huddersfield Giants.
Warrington won 20-8 in the end, so Salford’s result against Catalans would have been futile either way. After a 19-8 defeat on home soil, the Greater Manchester outfit bowed out with a 7th place finish, one lower than last term, but the boss remained pleased with how his players had carried themselves throughout the last eight months.
Paul Rowley says planning has already started to make Salford Red Devils a force to be reckoned with in 2024
Speaking to Sky Sports reporter Jon Wilkin post-match at the Salford Stadium, Rowley said: “I think this group of lads, this small group of lads, I would always say they’ve been outstanding all year.
“They’ve given us 100% and we’ve squeezed every last bit of juice out of them, but have we been polished? Probably not, and that’s probably the difference between this year and last.
“We’ve just not been polished enough at critical moments, and we had a big opportunity today to get a try, then they come up through (Tom) Johnstone with a massive play, the intercept which turned the game on its head really.
There’s progress, we’ve just got to keep working hard. Planning has started already, it certainly has for what we want to do pre-season.
“We’ve got a small squad, we need to add to that squad within the restraints of the budget, so that’ll be an ongoing process. All’s we can do is prepare our best with whatever group of player we’ve got.”
Sky pundit expresses admiration for ‘entertaining’ Salford
Following Rowley’s interview, Sky’s cameras panned back to the Leigh Sports Village where coverage was unfolding of Wigan Warriors’ League Leaders’ Shield celebrations.
Pundit Phil Clarke was sad to see Rowley’s side miss out on the top six, and said: “I think they’re a side who would always have one or two in the running for ‘try of the season’, which is always important, being an entertaining side.
“Salford have a great variety of play, I think, which sometimes other sides don’t have… they just grind their opponents down. They come up with some trick shots and some memorable moments, but it’s just not been enough to get them into the top six this year.”