Opposition Overview: Salford Red Devils

Picture by Jack Wray/Super League Europe/via SWpix.com - 06/03/2021 - Super League Season 2021 Pre Season Location Video Shoot and Stills Photography Portraits. Salford Red Devils - Dan Sarginson

Leeds Rhinos are back in Betfred Super League action this Sunday for the first time since their win against Castleford four weeks ago. The team will travel to the AJ Bell Stadium to take on Salford Red Devils, kick off 1pm.

If you have a Rhinos season or flexi membership, you can watch every minute live on the Our League app.

2021 so far..

Under the new regime of Richard Marshall, Salford may have made a slow start to the 2021 season and only the winless Leigh Centurions prevent them from sitting bottom of the league. A first win since April last time out against Huddersfield put them two points behind the three teams above them – Wakefield, Huddersfield and Leeds.

Marshall has had to embed thirteen new players into his plans after club signed players in quantity in the off season, and so far Elijah Taylor has been outstanding. Joining from Wests Tigers to replace Mark Flanagan, the New Zealand international has led the line defensively, making the thirteenth highest number of tackles in the league (326), having led the rankings at the start of the year. Taylor was joined by Sebastine Ikahihifo, who impressed on loan from Huddersfield last season, and Warrington youngster Harvey Livett as they added weight to a pack that already includes veterans Lee Mossop and Pauli Pauli.

Picture by Ed Sykes/SWpix.com – 22/05/2021 – Rugby League – Betfred Super League Round 7 – Salford Red Devils v Wigan Warriors – AJ Bell Stadium, Salford, England – Wigan Warriors’ Jackson Hastings in action

One of the games of the season so far for Salford came in round seven against Wigan. With their unbeaten record on the line, the Warriors were expected to sweep the Red Devils aside, but instead were caught in a tough arm wrestle as 12 points by Harvey Livett and a further try from former Wigan academy player Jack Wells inspired the home side to 16-10 lead with 20 minutes left. A converted try from Brad Singleton levelled the score before former Salford half back Jackson Hastings kicked a successful drop goal to win the game for Wigan.

2021 Squad

New players for 2021 – 13. Elijah Taylor (Wests Tigers, pictured), 1. Morgan Escare (Wigan Warriors), 5. Joe Burgess (Wigan Warriors), 26. Jack Wells (Wigan Warriors), 20. Harvey Livett (Warrington Wolves), 29. Declan Patton (Warrington Wolves), 14. Danny Addy (Leigh Centurions), 10. Sebastine Ikahihifo (Huddersfield Giants), Oliver Roberts (Huddersfield Giants, loan), 27. Sam Luckley (Free Agent), 28. Darcy Lussick (Free Agent).

Last Four Fixtures

Key Player

Salford’s Ken Sio scores a try. Picture by Alex Whitehead/SWpix.com

Winger Ken Sio has been ever present for Salford so far in 2021 and has been in fine form, with five tries so far in 2021.

Sio first arrived in Super League six years ago from Parramatta and joined Hull KR, where he made an instant impact, helping the club reach its first Challenge Cup Final against Leeds. A year later, he moved back to the NRL to sign with Newcastle but the winger soon returned, signing a three year deal with the Red Devils.

A free agent at the end of this campaign, Sio is having one of his most productive season, despite Salford’s current position in the table. He kicked the season off with tries against St Helens and Hull FC, also making 211 metres against the black and whites (his most all season), and he also has two tries in his last three games against Warrington and Huddersfield. Alongside tries, he also leads Marshall’s side in carries and metres after ten rounds.

The Coach

In his first head coaching role at a Super League club, it’s been a steady start for Richard Marshall in 2021.

Marshall began playing for Halifax in 1994 and was at the club for the birth of Super League in 1996. After four years, he signed for Huddersfield-Sheffield Giants, where he made over 50 appearances in two years, before then moving to London Broncos, where he made 30 appearances to help the club to its highest Super League finish in 2003 (5th). That year, he was selected for Ireland for their European Championship campaign and played in a 24-22 win over Scotland and an 26-18 defeat to France.

A slump the following year with London saw Marshall leave the club for Leigh Centurions and helped them get promoted to the first division in 2004. In their first season in Super League, Leigh only won two games and were instantly relegated once again, seeing Marshall move on again. This time he joined Swinton, where he played one season before announcing his surprise retirement with a foot injury.

Following his retirement, Marshall took up the head coaching job at Halifax and continued their positive form in the Championship, helping the club finish 4th (twice), sixth and third in the space of four years. With the exception of 2016 (when his side finished sixth), Halifax made the Qualifiers three times with Marshall at the helm, although they didn’t come close to promotion. In 2019, he became Justin Holbrook’s assistant coach and helped the club lift the Super League trophy in 2019 and 2020, before succeeding Ian Watson as head coach of the Red Devils.

Returning Face

Overall, five players in both Leeds and Salford’s squads have played for both clubs. Three members of the Salford squad have previously worn blue and amber, including Kallum Watkins, who captained Leeds from 2018 to 2019, when he announced his departure to Gold Coast Titans. Watkins won’t face his former club this Sunday though as he is currently sidelined with an ACL injury.

Tui Lolohea and Jack Ormondroyd also played for Leeds in recent years. Lolohea was the Rhinos’ first signing ahead of the 2019 campaign but made a swap midseason with Robert Lui and helped guide Salford to their first Grand Final, alongside Jackson Hastings. Ormondroyd only made a handful of appearances for Brian McDermott between 2017 and 2018, including coming off the bench in the 2018 World Club Challenge defeat to Melbourne Storm.

Two players in the Rhinos camp have also spent time at the AJ Bell. Richie Myler was pivotal in helping earn the Red Devils promotion back to Super League in 2009. He scored 38 tries during his two year spell with the club before he signed for Warrington in 2010. Following a spell in Catalans too, Myler signed for Leeds in 2018 and last season he was a pivotal figure when the Rhinos clashed with Salford in the Challenge Cup Final, winning the Lance Todd Man of the Match award.

Rob Lui also played four seasons as a Red Devil between 2016 and 2019, making over 100 appearances. He was part of a swap deal midway through the 2019 season that saw Lui move to Leeds and Tui Lolohea move in the opposite direction.

Last Game vs Leeds at AJ Bell Stadium

Before the season was suspended in March, Leeds and Salford met at the AJ Bell stadium at the start of the 2020 season; the Rhinos taking a 22-8 win. Following two early tries for Niall Evalds and former Rhino Lolohea, the visitors bounced back as Luke Gale, Luke Briscoe and Mikolaj Oledzki all scored tries, as well as Jack Walker, whose try on the break was the highlight of the game.

Tickets and how to watch

Picture by Paul Currie/SWpix.com

Leeds Rhinos fans have been offered an allocation of tickets to purchase for Salford Red Devils v Leeds Rhinos on Sunday 27th June at the AJ Bell Stadium (kick off 1pm).

Salford Red Devils have allocated 400 tickets in the North Stand only for Leeds Rhinos fans. When purchasing online, if Leeds Rhinos fans try to purchase in any other areas their tickets will be cancelled so, please ensure you select the correct area.

Go to  www.eticketing.co.uk/salfordreddevils to click here for more information.

The game will also be available for season and flexi membership holders on the OurLeague app. Just sign in now to start watching.