We take a look at what is being said and team news ahead of Thursday’s live Super League match between Salford Red Devils and Warrington Wolves…
Charnley sets sights on records
When he crossed for his third try of the 2021 Super League season in Warrington’s 38-14 win over Castleford Tigers last Saturday, Josh Charnley moved up to joint-fifth on the competition’s all-time leading try-scorers list.
The 29-year-old, who scored 164 tries in 173 appearances for Wigan before switching to rugby union for a two-year spell in 2016, has been a mainstay of the Wolves’ team under Steve Price since returning to the 13-man code three years ago.
Salford Red Devils vs Warrington Wolves
May 27, 2021, 7:00pm
Winger Charnley is now just 13 tries behind the third-placed duo of Keith Senior and Paul Wellens on the all-time list, and believes he is starting to find his form as Warrington prepare to travel to Salford on Thursday evening.
“It’s getting better,” Charnley, who is keen to keep making inroads into Danny McGuire’s record of 247 tries, said. “At the start of the season, I wasn’t myself.
“I had a few issues off the field, but I’ve started to find my rhythm again and I’m enjoying, so hopefully I can kick on. Scoring tries is my job and I need a few more now to keep ticking away on that leaders’ chart.
“I don’t think there are that many between me and third place. If I can get a decent year in, I can kick on and see where it takes me.”
In other milestone news, the man inside Charnley at centre for the Wolves, Toby King, is set to make his 100th Super League appearance in the match.
However, they will once again be without Greg Inglis in the three-quarters after head coach Price revealed the Australian could be out for up to two months after suffering a hamstring tear.
Red Devils doing it tough
The fixture list for the first eight rounds of the Super League season has not been kind to Salford, and by the time Richard Marshall’s side have played Warrington they will have faced all of the current top six – including reigning champions St Helens twice – in those matches.
So far, their one win has come against promoted Leigh Centurions, although the Red Devils were only narrowly beaten at home to table-toppers Wigan Warriors 17-16 last weekend despite the squad being affected by injury and suspension.
Thursday’s hosts will be without 10 players after Pauli Pauli joined Dan Sarginson in being suspended, which could see Sam Luckley make his debut, and head coach Marshall hopes it will not be long before his side can add to their sole win so far in the league.
“We’re under the pump with injuries and a couple of suspensions,” Marshall said. “We’ve been playing the top-end teams and it’s caught up on us.
“We know it’s going to be tough this week but, after Warrington we will have played every team in the top half of the table, so we’ll have some fixtures with the teams in and around us and they are the ones we need to be winning.”
In terms of Thursday’s opponents, Marshall is particularly wary of the danger posed by Warrington’s half-backs Gareth Widdop and Blake Austin.
“They’re a team that come good when they need to,” Marshall said. “We have to do a job on their halves.”
The pundit’s view
Former Salford player Mark Flanagan is not surprised by Salford’s slow start to the season but is in no doubt it will not be long before his old club start to come good.
The 33-year-old, who will be appearing on Sky Sports as guest pundit for Friday’s match between another of his old teams St Helens and Hull FC, retired at the end of last season and was one the players who the Red Devils lost, including Niall Evalds, Gil Dudson and Kris Welham.
New head coach Marshall reshaped the squad with several new signings during the off-season too and Flanagan believes results will start to pick up once those players have got to grips with the systems being put in place, as well as due to the quality still in the squad.
“I think every season at Salford, there has always been such a high turnover of players they have always started seasons slowly,” Flanagan, who was part of the Salford teams which reached the Super League Grand Final and Challenge Cup final, told Sky Sports.
“I half-expected it because there were a lot of new personnel in there and it will take some time to adapt, but there are too many quality players in the side.
“They have always played an exciting brand of rugby, and I’m sure Richard from his time at Saints and [assistant coach] Danny Orr from his time at Castleford will be bringing those platforms in for the players to play a similar style.
“I’m fully confident in my old mates and old friends that they can turn it around and have a successful season.”
Salford Red Devils: Morgan Escare, Ken Sio, Kallum Watkins, Joe Burgess, Tui Lolohea, Lee Mossop, Seb Ikahihifo, Ryan Lannon, Elijah Taylor, Ollie Roberts, Greg Burke, Chris Atkin, Harvey Livett, James Greenwood, Rhys Williams, Jack Ormondroyd, Jack Wells, Sam Luckley, Darcy Lussick, Dec Patton, Connor Aspey.
Warrington Wolves: Sitaleki Akauola, Blake Austin, Rob Butler, Josh Charnley, Daryl Clark, Jason Clark, Mike Cooper, Ben Currie, Matt Davis, Chris Hill, Jack Hughes, Toby King, Tom Lineham, Jake Mamo, Robbie Mulhern, Joe Philbin, Stefan Ratchford, Nathan Roebuck, Josh Thewlis, Danny Walker, Gareth Widdop.
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