The Low Down on Salford’s Latest Recruits
‘I dreamt a dream last night that the salary cap was increased. I have just realised, it was only a dream and cannot carry on signing more players.’ That was the message which Salford owner Marwan Koukash tweeted to the Red Devils’ fans on twitter yesterday.
Super League’s big spenders have dipped into their pockets once more, recruiting 6 new players: 3 for 2015 onwards and 3 with immediate effect.
Whilst a minority of pundits had tipped the Red Devils to be a surprise package for success this season, the reality has been different with Salford lying in 12th and having won just 1 of their last 10 games.
Much has been said about Salford’s ageing squad, full of players who are past their peak. Koukash’s latest recruits will look to rectify this. So who exactly have they signed and how will they fit in to Salford’s reinvigorated side?
There’s no doubting that New Zealand international Kevin Locke is Salford’s marquee signing. Having initially signed for 2015 from the New Zealand Warriors, the move was given the green light to go ahead with immediate effect after Salford released Tim Smith and Shannon McPherson to make room under the salary cap.
With the arrival of world record signing Sam Tomkins at the start of the year, Locke made just 2 appearances for the Warriors this season and had allegedly fallen out with Coach Andrew McFadden.
With Salford’s first choice full-back, Jake Mullaney, out with injury and Greg Eden having been recalled from his loan spell by Hull KR, Locke is expected to make the position his own and rejuvenate his career, starting against Hull FC in Round 20.
Winger, Mason Caton-Brown is another player who will join Salford straight away after joining on a 2 and a half year deal from London Broncos.
The 21 year old has been one of few bright lights in an otherwise dismal season for the Broncos, having impressed this campaign with 12 tries in 18 appearances.
Many top Super League clubs were rumoured to be after the youngster but Salford have won the race for his signature. He’s now expected to make his debut alongside Locke on the 12th of July.
Former Hull KR, Catalan and Wigan scrum half Michael Dobson is another big signing for Salford. The 28 year old Australian has signed a 4 year deal from next season, having had a torrid time since rejoining the NRL this season- making only 5 scoreless appearances for the Newcastle Knights.
In contrast, his Super League record is exemplary, having scored 1292 points in 153 appearances during his 5 years at Hull KR- renowned for his consistent goal kicking accuracy.
Dobson is expected to slot into the halves alongside Rangi Chase, but with Marc Sneyd returning from his loan spell at Castleford next season, as well as Theo Fages being deployed in the Scrum Half position for the remainder of this campaign, there will be plenty of competition for places.
The signing of Ben Jones-Bishop was announced last month, with the winger leaving the Leeds Rhinos after 7 years.
Despite scoring an impressive 67 tries in 97 games for Leeds, the signing of Tom Briscoe this season has restricted Jones-Bishop to just 8 appearances in 2014. A lack of game time has forced the move, and he is now expected to replace Francis Meli on the wing for the Red Devils in 2015.
The Salford switch could be the move which Jones-Bishop needs to make the transition from the England Knights into the England first team.
Amongst the numerous backs that Salford have signed, Weller Hauraki is the first forward they’ve recruited for 2015, with the second rower joining them from Castleford.
The tough tackling New Zealander previously played under Iestyn Harris at the Crusaders in 2010, and will rejoin his former coach at the Red Devils next season.
However, Hauraki will be 30 in 2015, with his signing failing to silence the critics over Salford’s ageing forward line. There’s a feeling that Koukash is yet to finish adding to his forwards for next year.
Announced last night, former Castleford and Wakefield centre Josh Griffin has joined the Red Devils, until the end of the season at least.
Having left Castleford to switch codes last season, Griffin was keen to return to Rugby League in 2014 and began the season at Batley Bulldogs. He had been training with the Salford squad for the past month, and impressed Iestyn Harris enough to be offered a deal to return to Super League.
It’s unlikely he will take a starting place over Martin Gleeson and Junior Sau’u, but could feature in the same side as his brother Darrell as soon as Saturday, when Salford travel to Castleford.