Seven Salford players approached by other clubs, reveals Ian Watson

Photo courtesy of Richard Long

Salford coach Ian Watson believes some of his players are getting distracted by other clubs offering them contracts for 2020.

The Red Devils were knocked out of the Challenge Cup on Saturday after losing 32-18 to Hull KR at the AJ Bell Stadium.

Jackson Hastings, Derrell Olpherts, Jake Bibby, Rob Lui and Niall Evalds have all been linked with moves away from Salford in recent weeks.

Speaking after their Cup exit, Watson said: “We’ve had six or seven players this week who have all been asked about going somewhere else and it’s a big distraction.

“We can’t offer them the money that is being offered elsewhere because we are not that kind of club. They have got a contract and a job to do here and they need to do that to the best of their ability for the rest of the time they are here.

“There are players who have been approached by big clubs, players who we have brought through and developed.

“Some players are getting their heads turned now and that’s at the back of their mind. They were playing well when they were just focusing on the game so at the moment, it’s a distraction.”

The Rugby Football League’s ruling is that players who are off-contract at the end of the season are free to speak to other clubs from May 1 regarding their future for 2020 and beyond.

But Watson reckons the date should be pushed back to a later stage in the season.

He added: “I suppose it sorts your future out but why can’t the end of July be the starting point for negotiations with players?

“I don’t like it as a coach or player. I can see it from a player’s point of view because they want to get their contracts sorted out for the future but I think it is a bad thing with what the RFL have done by putting it in place here because it distracts you from what your job is which is being a rugby league player.

“It doesn’t matter if you are going to another club next year and are getting paid by them, you have got a job to do for the club who you are getting paid by at this moment in time.

“They’ve got a lot of things to weigh up at the moment and if you move that away from them, they’ve not got a distraction and they can focus on their rugby.”

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