Why Super League will look to recruit more Championship players

Salford coach Ian Watson believes we will soon see more Super League clubs signing players from the Championship. 

The Red Devils signed prop Josh Johnson from Championship outfit Barrow earlier this month and he has impressed since arriving at the AJ Bell Stadium.

There have been a couple of other players who have made the step up from the Championship to Super League in recent times – Chris Hankinson and Joe Bullock both moving to Wigan from Swinton and Barrow respectively.

And Watson believes looking at the Championship is the way to go rather than just looking at the NRL.

Speaking after their 40-14 win over Catalans on Sunday, he said: “You’ve got to pay a lot of money out for players in Australia, you’ve got to pay for air fares and visas and stuff.

“For me, the Championship is a great grounding competition. I know there are a few teams like Toronto who want to be in Super League but there are other clubs in there who are giving young lads an opportunity because there are no reserves at the moment.

“Kriss Brining played more than 100 games before he came here and he was physically developed and able to play against blokes.

“Josh Johnson has played 100 first-team games as well so players are gaining experience and are playing against men in a physical competition so the Championship can’t be underestimated when it comes to looking at players.”

Johnson has helped Salford beat Warrington and Catalans since arriving, and Watson is certainly happy with the club’s bit of business.

He added: “Josh’s game is typical of a Championship front-rower. He is just game.

“He is like Joe Bullock from Wigan, they’ve both developed their games while they have been at Barrow because they have been playing consistently every single week.

“Paul [Crarey, Barrow coach] has done a great job up there with the two front-rowers.

“Josh has come in and took his opportunity, he played really well at Warrington last week and didn’t look out of place and made sure there was no way of me leaving him out today. He stood up well and performed great again today.”

Wakefield back-rower Pauli Pauli was in the stands watching Salford-Catalans ahead of proposed move to the Red Devils in 2020. When asked if Salford had signed Pauli for 2020, Watson replied: “We’ll wait and see on that one.”

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