Kallum Watkins is hoping for a successful season with his boyhood club, Salford Red Devils, ahead of their opening Super League fixture against St. Helens on Friday.
Confidence is high in the Red Devils camp after an impressive pre-season with their new head coach Richard Marshall.
This will be Marshall’s first season as a Super League coach, after a successful spell as the assistant head coach of Saints, something which Watkins admits has been an enjoyable challenge.
He said: “I think with the new coaching staff coming in it has given us a different perspective and a different challenge for everybody.
“It has been enjoyable, you know what pre-season is like, it is pretty tough, but we are looking really good and it is really positive.
“It is a big thing for him (Marshall), this is his first Super League head coaching job so he is putting everything into it and he is challenging us as players and as people as well.”
Salford ran out 20-6 winners in a friendly against Wigan Warriors earlier this month, with Watkins getting on the scoresheet.
“It was good to get out there and it was important getting minutes in and for new players bedding into the team as well.
“Every single one of them that signed for us in pre-season has done a fantastic job.
“There is still a lot to work on but there were a lot of positives to take from it,” Watkins said.
Salford kick off the 2021 season against the current Super League champions, St. Helens, on Friday 26 March.
Despite the tough start, Watkins believes the Red Devils can ‘go there on Friday and win’.
He explained: “It is exciting and you have got to take it as a challenge.
“We want to get off to a good start, we know we have a tough battle, they have got some incredible players but our team has been blessed with a lot of great players as well.
“We just have to believe in ourselves, as a group, that we can go there and get the job done and know that we will have a good plan and preparation.”
The Red Devils have been impressing for a couple of seasons now, in 2019 they reached the Super League Grand Final but lost out to this Friday’s opponents.
Then, in 2020 they came runners up to Leeds Rhinos in the Challenge Cup final, after narrowly losing 17-16.
Talking about the goal for this season, the six-time Super League winner Watkins, hopes they will finally be able to get their hands on some silverware.
He said: “We want to compete, I think the club has made that known and I think the club has shown their ambition over past couple of years.
“Now, we want to go one step further and lift some silverware for this club.
“That is the goal for me, to do that for a club that I grew up watching so I have got an emotional attachment to that and I will be doing everything possible to try and help that happen.
“I want to win and be successful with this club!”
As a child, Watkins was a season ticket holder for the club and also played amateur rugby for local slide Langworthy Reds.
Watkins explains in more detail below exactly how much the club means to him.
According to the Prime Minister’s roadmap, the AJ Bell Stadium could welcome back fans from the 17 May.
Watkins reflected on the period in which fans have been absent, whilst remaining positive about their potential return later in the season.
“It is obviously a strange time for everybody, the fans have not been able to go to the games which has been hard for them as well but it makes me even more excited for when they do come back.
“I do miss that atmosphere, when we played the [Challenge] Cup Final it was just a strange game because there was no one there.
“We are hoping soon that will change and we can get some fans back and get them enjoying the rugby even more!”