Well Done Marwan
Now this writer isn’t used to heaping praise on Salford owner Dr Koukash The Red Devils have been a basket case for much of his tenure, throwing money at the nearest passing chancer and hoping that at the end of it a rugby league team will fall into place. Things got so bad that Ian Watson’s side were minutes away from dropping out of Super League altogether before a remarkable comeback in that unforgettable Million Pound Game at the end of last season. Though that audacious flirt with relegation was mostly due to their salary cap indiscretions (see, more evidence than Marwan isn’t running things as he should) not much was expected of Salford in 2017.
How wrong we have been as the Red Devils sit a staggering second in the table, just two points behind the Tigers at the top. This week they play host to Catalans Dragons who could be a dangerous opponent having just dispensed with the services of Head Coach Laurent Frayssinous. Whether they do or not is something of a side issue thanks to Marwan’s offer to allow fans free entry into the game on Friday night (May 26). Instead of buying a ticket he has requested only that fans make a donation to the relief fund for the victims of the devastating terrorist attack at Manchester Arena earlier this week.
It’s a wonderful gesture from Koukash and cannot possibly be viewed any other way. At a dark and miserable time for the region it is heartening to see Koukash trying to help financially and to bring people together. Should the fans respond and turn out in large numbers it will be yet another example of the wonderful spirit shown since the abhorrent bombing which tragically took the lives of 22 people. Well done Marwan for a fabulous act of philanthropy when it is most needed.
Are Wakefield A Top Four Contender?
Few would have believed that ahead of Thursday night’s big derby between Saints and Wigan at the stadium formerly known as Langtree Park (May 25) both would be behind Wakefield Trinity in the BetFred Super League standings. We are 14 rounds in, yet Chris Chester’s side have stayed the course so far. They sit fifth in the table, two points off the Rhinos in the last and all-important playoff place as they prepare to host an under-achieving but slowly improving Huddersfield Giants.
Wakefield will be boosted by the news that they have signed Adam Walker on a two-and-a-half-year deal from Saints. The latter have also allowed Jack Owens to join Sheffield on loan as they clear the decks to avoid having to look down the back of the sofa for the change they will need to pay Ben Barba’s probably humongous salary. Which gives Wakefield the use of a handy front rower who impressed with Hull KR enough over the last two seasons to persuade Saints to bring him into their fold at the start of the season. Yet he has not been given a consistent run in the side for whatever reason and has consequently failed to shine. He should get that opportunity with Trinity and should be a good addition to their playoff bid.
Meanwhile the Giants are showing real signs of recovery after a dreadful beginning to the season. The nadir was a Challenge Cup exit to Swinton but since then they have clawed their way back into contention for the Super 8s. They sit in 10th, but just a point behind the Dragons in ninth and two behind Warrington in that last Super 8s slot. Those two have difficult assignments against Salford and Leeds respectively this weekend and if Rick Stone’s side can add to recent wins against the Rhinos and at Magic against the Dragons either side of a narrow loss to the all-conquering Tigers they will be well in the mix to avoid the Middle 8s with eight more games to go after this one.