Following the off season departure of Ben Murdoch-Masila to Warrington and Gareth O’Brien’s move to Toronto this week, Salford Red Devils fans are currently seeing the dismantling of a team that started 2017 so strongly. Indeed, they were in the top four for a big part of the season but, ultimately, drifted and fell short. Now, without Marwan Koukash at the helm, the club almost reeks of a fire sale and there are strong rumours circulating that two more of the club’s stars are set to depart.
In the off season, Niall Evalds was strongly linked with a move to Castleford with a view to becoming Zak Hardaker’s replacement. Alas, that didn’t happen and last season’s stand off Ben Roberts has been moved back to the number 1 jersey. However, with the apparent issues surrounding Salford, the pacy back is being linked once more. Roberts, after all, hasn’t totally shone in his new role and perhaps Daryl Powell is viewing Evalds as a good fit for his style of play; indeed, his pace and finishing ability would see him cross the line times aplenty if in the Tigers’ jersey and would be unquestionably a good signing for the club.
Another Red Devils star being linked with passing through the exit door is experienced forward Craig Kopczak. A 31 year old forward with over 300 senior appearances to his name, the Welsh international is viewed as one of Salford’s best and most senior players yet, perhaps because of the uncertainty, rumours have emerged that Leeds Rhinos and Hull FC are interested in bringing the Welsh international to Yorkshire. Leeds, of course, are short in the pack following Keith Galloway’s retirement and, thanks to the injuries that have hit the Rhinos’ big men, his arrival would no doubt benefit last season’s champions both immediately and going forward. Hull FC have seen 27 year old forward Liam Watts leave for Castleford this week with coach Lee Radford citing off field issues as being behind the move and, as such, it has left a space in the Airlie Birds’ pack. FC, however, may look at giving more game time to their youngsters including Masi Matongo who, this week, signed a contract extension. Radford did admit that “if I need the money it’s there and the Chairman has said that,” so while it may seem unlikely it would be unwise to rule the move out.
According to Danny Lockwood on Rugby League BackChat this week, Hull KR are set to return, after initially missing out at the start of the season, for Red Devils’ experienced half back Robert Lui. Throw all three of these together and you see that the team’s best players are being linked with moves away – something which usually indicates a problem. It will definitely be interesting to see how many – if any – of these moves come to fruition but it is clearly a difficult time for Salford Red Devils.