On Thursday night Salford Red Devils find themselves in a game that could decide the club’s future.
Ian Watson’s team did not expect to be one loss away from the dreaded ‘Million-pound game’ but with two defeats in as many weeks against Leeds Rhinos and the London Broncos, Salford face Toulouse in a must win game.
Rugby League is not the easiest to understand, therefore, for those who don’t know, the ‘Million-pound game’ is an annual play off game between the sides finishing in fourth and fifth in the Super league 8’s qualifiers, during the second stage of the Rugby League season. The game is played at the higher seed’s home ground and decides which side will gain a berth in the Super League the following season.
If Salford fail to win their game on Thursday against French side Toulouse, they could find themselves in their second ‘Million-pound game’ in as many years. The Red Devils have been in good form during their Super 8’s qualifiers with four victories out of a possible six. In second place the Devils are still in a decent position and will be looking to end the season strongly.
Assistant coach Willie Poching spoke to us ahead of the game on Thursday:
“I don’t think anyone can understate the importance of what the game means to us as a group and as a club. We recognise the situation that we’re in. It’s a must win game and we’ll prepare accordingly.
“A few people in this team have had the experience of being involved in the Million Pound Game and it’s not something you want to be involved in at all”.
The French giants Toulouse Olympique will be a physical challenge for Salford but playing at home is a huge advantage for the team. Head coach Ian Watson called upon the fans to back the team and said confidence between the players is very high:
“Our mood is really good. We’ve reviewed the weekends game. We were a bit sour after the game, but we’ve moved on and had a look at Toulouse this morning.
“At this stage of the season everyone knows it’s all hands to the pump and you’ve got to be tough. We’ve got to get as many supporters down as we can to get behind the team and create an awkward atmosphere for the French.”
Toulouse kept their promotion hopes alive after beating Hull KR 32-23. They found themselves 19-0 down but quickly touched down three times in six minutes to pull themselves to only one point behind before half-time (19-18).
Salford were involved in a shock result after a fantastic defensive display from the London Broncos. The 11-8 victory keeps the Broncos hopes alive for a shot at the ‘Million-pound game’.
Ian Watson named his 19-man squad to take on Toulouse which includes the return of Jackson Hastings, which the coach is very pleased about:
“One thing we lacked at London was energy and enthusiasm. He’s brought that in bucket loads since he’s arrived. Training was upbeat today and there’s energy around the team.
“We have a few players ruled out. We have Josh Wood, Junior Sa’u Ed Chamberlain and Lama Tasi missing. This gives the opportunity for others to come into the first team and stake their claim and push for a regular spot”.
Following the defeat Salford Red Devils now need to beat Toulouse on Thursday to secure their Super League status. Make sure you get down to the AJ Bell Stadium and support the boys in the biggest game of the season so far!