Salford Red Devils: Experienced duo to depart at end of 2023 with both etched in club’s history books

Ben Olawumi
James Greenwood (left) and Rhys Williams (right)

James Greenwood (left) and Rhys Williams (right) will both depart Salford at the end of 2023 - Alamy

Salford Red Devils have tonight confirmed that veteran pair Rhys Williams and James Greenwood will depart at the end of the year, with both ending four-year stints in Greater Manchester.

The duo are both off-contract at the end of the year, and have featured sporadically in the Red Devils side in 2023, with just 10 appearances between them to date.

All of a Red Devils persuasion will remember the pair fondly for their tries in the 2020 Challenge Cup final at Wembley, albeit coming out on the losing side of a gut-wrenching 17-16 scoreline against Leeds Rhinos behind closed doors under the arch.

In the club’s first trip to Wembley since 1969, Wales captain Williams scored a breakaway try in the first half to level things up, while Oldham-born Greenwood crossed midway through the second half to hand Salford a lead. Luke Gale would eventually kick a one-pointer in the 76th minute to win it for Leeds.

Salford Red Devils confirm Rhys Williams and James Greenwood will depart

Winger Williams first joined Salford on loan from Warrington Wolves in 2013, making four appearances. The now-33-year-old re-joined permanently in 2020 following a five-year spell at London Broncos, and has since gone on to make a further 58 appearances for the club.

Similarly, 32-year-old Greenwood made two appearances for the Red Devils as a loanee from Wigan Warriors back in 2015. He also re-joined in 2020 on a permanent basis, making 23 appearances since then, but just five last term and one this having been held back with injuries.

As the club confirmed the veteran duo’s departures in a statement on their website, Director of Rugby and Operations Ian Blease bid a fond farewell to the pair.

He said: “I would like to put on record and say a very much heartfelt thank you to both Rhys and James for their service, dedication and professionalism whilst they have both been with us at Salford Red Devils.

“Both players have served rugby league and Super League greatly; who can forget that they were both were try scorers in our 2020 Challenge Cup final appearance, with both giving everything on the pitch from the moment they joined the club.

“I send James & Rhys – and their respective families – our best wishes for the future; they will always be very welcome back to the Salford Stadium!”

Boss Paul Rowley – who took charge at The Salford Stadium ahead of 2022 – added: “On behalf of all of the lads, we thank them for their contributions to the group and their friendship during their time at Salford. We wish them the best of luck for the future!”

Salford’s other off-contract stars

Greater Manchester outfit Salford still have six further members of their squad off-contract come the end of the year, though winger Ken Sio is expected to sign on the dotted line for 2024 as confirmed by head coach Rowley earlier this year.

Danny Addy, Amir Bourouh, Matty Costello, Ben Hellewell and Deon Cross are the remaining quintet. The last of those on that list, Cross, spoke exclusively to Love Rugby League last month about his career to date and his immediate future, hoping to be in Rowley’s plans beyond this year.

Many clubs in Super League have already released a full ‘departures list’, though it would appear that the Red Devils still have work to do when it comes to the five listed above, given that the last line of tonight’s statement read, “The club remains in conversation with other players whose contracts are to expire this year. Further updates will be shared when appropriate.”

Rowley’s side host Catalans Dragons tomorrow evening in their final game of the regular season. They must win – and Warrington must slip up against Huddersfield Giants – in order for them to make the top six for a second year running.

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