David Clegg Meets With Assistant Coach, Willie Poching, Who Reviews The Wigan Opener, And Looks Ahead To Thursday’s Trip To Huddersfield
After three pre-season friendlies, in which the standard provided by the opposition was ratcheted up week by week, it could be of little argument that in the opening fixture of the season, visitors, Wigan, provided a further step up in intensity, speed and physicality, which is only what one might have expected of last year’s champions.
Assistant Coach, Willie Poching, took time out to highlight the significant differences between a friendly, with nothing at stake, and a full blooded Super League encounter, especially in the opening fixture of the season, against the mighty Warriors.
“The focus in all that we do in pre-season is always towards the first Super League match, because you want to get off to a good start, regardless as to who the opposition is, and especially at home,” he explains.
“This was always going to be a big game for us, purely with it being our season’s opener, but to have the champions, at home, also gave us a big opportunity to show ourselves at our best.  We didn’t quite manage that in the first half, but in the second half we went a long way towards giving ourselves some credibility, with a performance which we can be more proud of.”
The problems encountered in the first half seemed to come, on the whole, from our failure to turn opportunities into points, any of which would have boosted the players’ confidence, and also spread a little doubt among the Warriors.
“We created three good opportunities, that we didn’t take, which would have made a difference to the scoreline,” is his judgement.  “Most disappointing, though, was the fact that we allowed those errors to affect us through our frustration, despite the fact that we had been working, as a group, to avoid this.
“Our failure to score that first try at the end of a very promising attack, in the early minutes of the game, and then almost immediately conceding one at the other end, seemed to deflate us when we really should have remained positive.  As a result, Wigan got a roll on until we were able to regroup at half time, and then we completely reversed the situation.
“Our biggest issue of all, though, is consistency.  We need to start well, finish well, and be just as good in between.”
There is no denying the ability, in the Wigan side, to dominate any opposition unless they really match up to the champions, as, indeed, we did in the second half, but Willie is keen to point out just how much talent there is in our squad and just how successful we were in dominating them, in that second forty.
He also draws our attention to a correlation between how players come into a game, and how they prepare for it during the week, and after the somewhat disappointing start we made last Saturday, they will be paying some attention to that, in the run up to the Huddersfield encounter.
With the Giants having finished bottom of the pile, last season, many may have, rather prematurely, written them off this season, but for those who have, there was a wake-up call with their away victory at Widnes, last week.
“They are a quality side,” is Willie’s considered opinion, “and they finished among the leaders, most seasons, in recent years.  They still have the core of the team they had two years ago, and there have not been any noises from them throughout the close season.  They have just quietly got on doing their job and preparing for the season.
“It is a short turnaround for us, this week, but nevertheless we will have a good look at what they did, last Friday, in overturning Widnes’s initial six point lead.  We certainly don’t want that to happen to us; we want to carry on from where we left off against Wigan.”
From all reports, as might be expected, Danny Brough was at the heart of their revival with his devastating kicking game.
“Danny has the ability to do that,” Willie agrees. “We will have a job to do to handle that, as a team.  We will have to put him under pressure before he gets boot to ball, which will then make it easier for others to take the kick.”
The Huddersfield fixture is one to which many Salford fans really look forward,  because they are invariably closely fought contests, and the Red Devils seem, at least, to have had their fair share of the spoils over the years, though Willie insists the coaches and squad have other things on which to focus.
“I’m not one for looking back into the history of encounters, as such,” he professes.  “They will be different teams going head to head, from years ago, and we have to be trying to win every game in which we take part.  Beating Huddersfield in the next game will give us our first win of the season so we want to ensure things go our way.”
Referee – J Child
Touch Judges – J Thompson, W Turley
Video Ref – R Hicks
Reserve Referee – T Crashley
Reserve Touch  Judge – P Graham