In The First Of A Two Part Feature With Centre Jake Bibby, David Clegg Continues His Series Reviewing the Season Through The Eyes Of Up And Coming First Teamers
On the back of a six match, uninterrupted run, in the first team, mid-season, Jake Bibby can undoubtedly look back on the 2016 season with some considerably satisfaction, for indeed each consecutive reselection can be regarded as a vote of confidence in his previous performances.
It was in the opening, pre-season friendly at Rochdale, that Jake first featured, however, when he showed his versatility by starting initially on the wing, before moving into the centre, and finishing up in the second row, the last of which has been mooted could possibly be Jake’s eventual specialist position.
With the enforced cancellation of the final friendly at Featherstone, Jake missed out on a second opportunity of a run out and so, at the start of the season, was sent out on loan to Oldham, currently operating in the Championship, where he played in his recognised role for a total of five games.  Having scored his first try in a particularly enjoyable fixture against Dewsbury, he was able to back this up with a couple of further scores, over the remaining games.
His recall back to Salford was to prove to be little more than an interlude, however, as shortly afterwards, he went out to join link club North Wales Crusaders, with whom he played three matches, on dual registration.  In the first, against Oxford, he was selected in the centre, but for the remaining two he played in the second row, against York City Knights, and Coventry.
One very welcome interruption to his time there came in mid-April, when he was brought back for inclusion in the Salford team to visit Hunslet, in the fifth round of the Challenge Cup.  This proved to be a real break for him, as he had a fine game, mainly on the wing, which he capped with two tries, in the 50-14 win, and consequently two weeks later, after his final outing with the Crusaders, he was called back to the A J Bell, to bolster the Red Devils’ squad.
A marked increase in playing standards awaited him just one week later, when he was selected to make his Super League debut against Widnes Vikings, in the opening match of the Magic Weekend, at Newcastle.
“It was an overawing occasion, and I felt really nervous beforehand,” he recalls.  “We travelled the day before, and stayed overnight, before the game, but when you get to the stadium, and see all the fans from the various clubs, it does tend to get to you, when really it’s just another game.”
Special as this was to him, personally, it became all the more so with the team coming away with an 18-12 win, to cap it all off.
Of his own performance, he reflects, “ I started off well, but made a couple of mistakes in the first half, one of which led to Widnes scoring one of their tries, but the rest of the time I was on, I felt I did my job well.”
This assessment tallied with that of his coaches who gave him encouraging feedback, and rewarded him by retaining his services for the following week in the home fixture, against Wakefield.  Although he spent much of the game on the bench, in this, when he did come on, in the second half, he again felt confident in the contribution he had made, and was given the nod once more, for the following fixture, at home to Wigan.