Richard Marshall prepares for his first official game in charge of Salford Red Devils on Sunday against Wigan Warriors and he appears excited by the challenge that faces him.
The Red Devils have been on an upward trajectory for the last few years but with the catalyst behind their success in Ian Watson now gone, the onus is on his successor Marshall to take the club to the next level.
Marshall who has had success as an assistant head coach at St Helens, winning two Grand Finals in his time there, will be hoping to bring that level of success to his new home in Salford.
Speaking about carrying on with Salford where he left off with St Helens, Marshall said: “That’s the aim! At St Helens, I learned quite a lot there as an assistant, I worked with some international, world-class players.
“We’ve implemented some of the ideas, the skills and levels of intensity in training that a team like St Helens would practice at.
“But also this is Salford who are used to getting to finals and have done really well over the last couple of years, so the level of intensity between the two is not too dissimilar.
“We’ve improved our skill level, we’ve improved our fitness and our overall strength in combat, so I think we’re in good shape.”
The journey officially begins for Marshall on Sunday as the Red Devils host Wigan Warriors in a pre-season friendly, having already played an unofficial game against St Helens.
The thinking behind playing last season’s two Grand Finalists was a tactical one according to Marshall.
He explained why: “We want to go against the best teams and St Helens and Wigan were by the competition standings last year and the Grand Final was a fantastic game for both of those teams.
“We want to pit ourselves against those two teams and see where we’re at and if we get where we think we deserve to be at the end of the year then we’ll be in the finals and we’re playing the likes of St Helens and Wigan again.”
“So to answer your question, yeah I am really excited about joining this club, being part of something really special.
“We’re looking at an academy plan and putting stuff together to engage with our community, so it’s not just about the first team for me, it’s about our development, our pathways, and creating a real community-focused club.”
Marshall continued to say: “I understand I’ll get judged on wins and loses but at the same time, I think it’s important we have a conveyor belt of talent that is coming through this club.”
😬 Rugby is back!!
🆚 We host @WiganWarriorsRL on Sunday 14th March for a preseason friendly, which Salford season ticket holders can watch for free on Our League, and will also be on sale for fans to pay to watch.
READ ➡️ https://t.co/vhFr2alL7Y
— Salford Red Devils (@SalfordDevils) March 4, 2021
Marshall believes Costello has every chance of breaking into a competitive backline: “If you asked him, he’d tell you he would do! He’s a good, confident, bouncing young lad and I worked with him at Saints.
“I could see he was a little bit frustrated by the end of last year but that said he’s a quality player, he’s been really good in and around the place.
“He’d have to do really well wouldn’t he to get in front of the likes of Kallum Watkins, Krisnan Inu, but at the same time, he’s having a good go in training, I’ve been really impressed with him and I wouldn’t say he’s too far away.”
Looking ahead to Sunday’s game, Marshall confirmed they will be without a few players due to injury.
He said: “We’ve got a couple who won’t participate, Joe Burgees whose got an ankle injury, he’s probably going to be out for some time.
“Greg Burke had a knee clear out over pre-season so he won’t be available and we had a session against Saints last week and we picked up a couple of knocks from that game, so we’ve got about a 23 man squad.”
👥 Richard Marshall has named his squad for the friendly against @WiganWarriorsRL on Sunday!
😬 A few of the new lads could be featuring!
🛒 Get your Our League gameday pass here ➡️ https://t.co/gMekBT46pk
— Salford Red Devils (@SalfordDevils) March 12, 2021
With the Super League opener on the horizon, Sunday’s friendly against Wigan is a good opportunity for Marshall to get to grips with his new side.
Because in just two weeks time, he’ll return home to face Super League holders St Helens and this time, it’ll be the real thing.